There’s no stopping this man – from conducting raids. In just 48 hours after assuming his new role as Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) of Vakola Division, controversial cop Vasant Dhoble is already in the thick of things, doing what he does best – conducting raids and ‘cleansing’ sundry establishments dotting the landscape of his new hunting grounds: Vile Parle and Vakola.
The recent order for Dhoble’s transfer from the Social Service Branch had raised hope in some circles and consternation in others, with many predicting that Dhoble in his new post would be too busy with routine police work to indulge his love for conducting frequent raids on establishments. It seems that they spoke too soon.
Three days after the order, Dhoble took charge in his new office at the Vile Parle police station on Wednesday. Far from taking it easy to acclimatise himself to his new surroundings, Dhoble stepped out on the prowl.
First on his itinerary was Vile Parle, which he patrolled with his new staff, raiding innumerable installations that fell on the way, many of them eateries and hotels. “In just two hours we collected Rs 70,000 by way of fines,” confirmed Senior Police Inspector Shashikant Talegaonkar of Vile Parle police station.
None of the violations escaped Dhoble’s unwavering gaze — while he caught some hoteliers using gas cylinders meant for private residences and not the mandatory commercial ones, others got the ticket for staying open beyond the 11 pm deadline. The errant owners were fined and let off with a warning — till the next raid, that is.
Day 2 saw him in Vakola, overseeing bandobasts arranged at several places. Dhoble was seen lurking in the area till late hours, with residents fishing for their camera phones and clicking photographs of the man in action.
A motley crowd soon flocked to see the notorious cop patrolling the streets, perhaps hoping for a glimpse of his dreaded hockey stick. True to his celebrity status, Dhoble graciously waved at the crowds and posed for cameras. This however, did not stop him from swooping in on errant establishment owners for flouting norms — he charged no less than five joints in Vakola for operating beyond the 11 pm deadline. Pan masala stalls, juice centres, chai shops, nothing escaped the intrepid Dhoble, his hockey stick replaced by a more modest torch. He patrolled the streets in his police Bolero, inspiring awe and dread.
A pan masala vendor, who faced action said, “There is only one person in the police department who can do it, and that is Mr Dhoble. I was very scared when he approached me. I immediately went to the police station to pay my fine. There was a huge crowd on the road with people coming just to watch him.”
All the joints were levied a fine of Rs 1,200 and let off.
His hawk-eyed gaze was not just limited to the city streets teeming with rule breakers – even within the confines of his office, Dhoble came down hard on subordinates who had dressed shabbily. A police officer from Vakola police station said, “If our top button is unfastened, or if our caps aren’t in proper position, he shouts at us and asked them to come dressed properly. He also does not like officers who are irregular.”
Locals, however, have reposed full faith in Dhoble’s ability to cleanse their streets of illegal joints. A hopeful resident, Sayyed Abdul Qadir, said, “I am very happy that Dhoble has come to our area. We don’t have any tension as we know that he will listen to every citizen.” Ajit Jain, a college student, said, “It is good that he has come to our area. Now he will curb illegal activities. Dhoble is so famous that he is no less then a celebrity now.”
The amount collected as fines in two hours by Dhoble’s team on Day 1
The fine levied on joints for staying open beyond 11 pm deadline
The number of raids conducted by Dhoble on clubs and bars as head of the Social Service Branch