It was a rendezvous of unequals — lakhs of Bal Thackeray supporters on one side, and 20,000 cops on the other. Mercifully there was no violence, and proving countless detractors wrong Shiv Sainiks remained on their best behaviour. But the challenge for Mumbai police didn’t begin and end with the Sena patriarch’s funeral. The last few days have been particularly trying for the force, and everyone — from the commissioner to the constables — have had to make sacrifices and push themselves.
Since it is near impossible to profile each one of the 20,000 cops who remained on the streets without food and water for many hours, MiD DAY attempts to highlight a few who exemplify the commendable way in which cops took charge of the most sensitive areas like Shivaji Park, Sena Bhavan, Kalanagar, apart from other parts of the city, during the final journey of Bal Thackeray.
Mumbai police commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh postponed his daughter’s reception ceremony that was scheduled for yesterday evening at Goregaon. When Thackeray passed away on Saturday, Singh immediately called up his subordinates and appeared before the media in less than two and a half hours for a briefing about the security arrangements in Mumbai.
His immediate subordinate joint commissioner of police (administration) Hemant Nagrale said, “We had strictly advised our staff not to react to any incidents impulsively as this would lead to tension. This key instruction helped keep the situation under control.” This was clearly visible when one of the officers addressing the crowd at Sena Bhavan in Hindi saying ‘chalo chalo’ was asked by the Sainiks to speak in Marathi. Instead of losing his cool, the cop obliged.
Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy, who is otherwise very particular about his health regime, hadn’t slept for four days in a row. “We stuck to a formula — work your plan and plan your work. Thankfully, everything went according to the strategy made by our superiors,” said Roy, who was in-charge of security at Matoshree and Sena Bhavan.
Rising to the challenge
According to Mumbai police, more than five lakh people gathered for Bal Thackeray’s last rites at Shivaji Park. Heavy security arrangements had been made throughout the city with special emphasis on Matoshree, Shiv Sena Bhavan and Shivaji Park. According to officials, an extra company of 130 Railway Police Force personnel were also deployed at Dadar railway station. 20,000 Mumbai policemen, 15 companies of State Reserve Police Force , and three companies of Rapid Action Force were deployed in the city yesterday. Police stations were also alerted to patrol their areas. Special units like Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad and Dog Squad were posted at various locations in the city.