Cops' Ganpati wishes fail to please residents

To mend fences with locals, Chunabhatti police station -- operating from a residential complex against civilians' wishes -- put up Ganesh Chaturthi hoardings, but they have failed to break the ice

The bonhomie of Ganpati greetings from Chunabhatti police is lost on citizens in their jurisdiction. Here's a clue why. The festive compliments come on giant banners erected on streets -- like the kinds politicians resort to for visibility and goodwill -- and they are as much of an eyesore as they are illegal. They dot the streets still, a month after the festival's conclusion.

Writing on the wall: To win back the embittered civilians in their
jurisdiction that the Chembur police had, in a sort of 'consumer outreach'
programme, put up around 20-25 illegal banners during Ganesh Chaturthi.

But more than the illegitimacy of the banners, it is the presence of the station in a residential building that has caused bad blood between residents and the cops.

Chunabhatti police station functions from six flats on the first and second floors of a seven-storey MHADA building, in the face of vehement opposition by the building's inhabitants and their neighbours.

In the past, irascible residents of Devratna Nagar Cooperative Housing Federation in Chunabhatti, where the station holds office, had written to the police, requesting them to move out of their society. "We don't want criminals coming to our houses," they had reasoned, before writing to the home department about it.

The housing society, which comprises 12 buildings, had even filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court against the police station's presence on residential premises. But the police had won the case.

With time, the protests and grievances tailed off, but their rancour is yet to be exhausted.

'Yet to thaw'
It was to win back the embittered civilians in their jurisdiction that the police had, in a sort of 'consumer outreach' programme, put up around 20-25 banners during Ganesh Chaturthi. But the fraying illegal hoardings did not strike a chord with residents.

"After politicians, the cops too are resorting to illegal banners to build goodwill, but it doesn't cut ice with us," said a local on condition of anonymity.

Admitting that it was a sort of PR exercise, an official from the station said, "Locals still end up going to Nehru Nagar and Chembur police stations to register their complaints. The hoardings will make them aware about the existence of our police station." The station was set up in May with the motive of relieving the neighbouring police stations in crime-prone areas of their burden.

He added, "It has been a few months since the police station started. Most residents in our jurisdiction still do not have an idea of its existence. The Chunabhatti station has been allotted most sensitive areas like Kasaiwada, Lal Dongri, certain areas in Sion, and the Wadala truck terminal area."

Sources from the within the police station revealed that the banners were put by a social worker in the area, at the behest of one of the officers from the station. Ironically, it is the Chunabhatti police that is the empowered authority to act against such illegal banners, and locals do not know who to got to now.

The other side
Senior Inspector D R Chaudhary of Chunabhatti police station said, "We have seen those banners, but we don't know who put them up. We will try and find out and have them removed immediately."

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