Mumbai cop's son studies for exams amid rubble as BMC demolishes shanty
Vidyadhar Jadhav’s 25 years of service as a policeman and even his threat of setting himself ablaze did not prevent the BMC and Andheri police personnel from allegedly illegally razing the house of one of their own and forcing him and his family to live on the road.
Vikas, son of Head Constable Vidyadhar Jadhav (right), studies for his exams surrounded by the rubble of the demolished homes . Pics/Shadab Khan
Head Constable Jadhav, attached to the Sahar police station, and his family had been living in a shanty in Manjrekar Wadi on N S Phadke Road (near Bisleri Junction) in Andheri (East) for more than 20 years. The BMC planned to raze the cluster of shanties that make up Manjrekar Wadi to make room for widening the road as part of a larger project.
Despite the matter being in court, BMC and Andheri police officials allegedly razed three shanties on November 29 without allotting alternative flats, forcing the families of Jadhav, his brother Santosh and one Anil Parab to live on the road, amidst the ruins of their houses, since then.
While Jadhav’s son, whose Master of Computer Application exams are on, has been studying under streetlights, the Parabs’ cash and jewellery worth more than a lakh were allegedly stolen during the demolition, and the Andheri police are not even taking a complaint.
Jadhav and the other families, who have been living in Manjrekar Wadi since the ’90s, were told in January this year that their shanties would need to be demolished to widen N S Phadke Road and that they would be given flats in exchange. “I was very ready for this, as I did not want to get in the way of a project that can benefit a lot of people.
In June, BMC officials showed me a room in Dahisar’s Savarpada area. Despite Dahisar being too far from my work place, I decided to take a look. The building had 2-BHK flats, which we were not eligible for, and I realised that they were offering me and my family a very small room meant for a watchman in the basement. I refused to take it, as it was not even a flat in a building,” said Jadhav.
Jadhav was then shown a place in Mogra Village, behind Meghwadi police station in Jogeshwari. “This room was even more horrible. The seven-floor building that they took me to, had 15 flats on each floor but not a single resident. The building was a druggie den and was littered with drug packets and alcohol bottles. I took photos of all this and the flat, and asked officials how anyone with a family could live there,’ he added.
The BMC officials, however, ignored everything and, on November 15, gave the families notice that their houses would be demolished in the next 48 hours. Anil Parab said, “We finally decided to move court. Jadhav, Pravin Shetty who owns a shop in the area and I approached the Dindoshi court, which asked the BMC to show us proper flats and demolish our houses only after the allotment is done.”
On November 28, BMC officials showed the families some flats in Andheri (West), which were acceptable to them, and the officials were supposed to submit this to the court on December 1 and get the nod for allotment as well as demolition. However, a BMC team reached the area the very next day on November 29 with a bulldozer and more than 20 Andheri police officials.
Head Constable Jadhav said, “I requested the police officers, told them I was a constable myself and informed them that the matter is in court. I told them that we were not against the demolition, but that we should be allotted flats first. I also pleaded that my son, Vikas, needs to study for his exams, but the BMC officials and the cops did not listen. I poured kerosene on myself, and then the police officials forcibly took me to Andheri police station.”
“We kept asking them to show us the order copy for the demolition, but they refused. I was soaked in kerosene at the police station, but no one to listened to me. After three hours, when I realised that they would not do anything, I went back only to find my home, which I had bought with my life savings, in ruins. If this is how they treat a policeman, I can only imagine the plight of the common man,” he added.
Anil Parab’s wife, Archana, said, “Both my husband and I were at work and our house was locked. How can the officials demolish a locked house? We came in the evening and saw just rubble. My gold jewellery and cash, worth more than a lakh, was missing after the demolition. The police are not even taking our complaint. Where are we supposed to go?”
Jadhav’s son Vikas told mid-day, “My exams began on December 2 and will go on till December 12. I am forced to study on the road. Only I know how I am studying and appearing for my papers. How can you concentrate when your home is reduced to dust?”
Jadhav said that during the next hearing after the tussle, on December 5, the court asked the BMC how it carried out the demolition despite the court’s orders and that, too, after 3 pm on a Saturday, which is a half day for the BMC. A BMC official allegedly apologised to the court and admitted they had made a mistake. The matter’s next hearing is on Wednesday, December 10, and the families will have to continue living on the road at least till then.
Activist Nicholas Almeida said, “This is completely unjust and inhumane. The officials have stopped caring to such an extent that even a police official is treated like this. The common man has nowhere to go. The road widening is being done to please builders and remove the shanties that potential residents of high-rises may consider eyesores. The authorities should put an end to such practices. I will protest and agitate until strict action is taken.”
The BMC plans to raze Manjrekar Wadi, a cluster of shanties on N S Phadke Road that are home to 16 families, to smoothen the corridor between the Jiva-Mahale Road and Andheri-Kurla Road.
The other side
Bhagyashree Kapse, BMC ward officer of Andheri (West), said, “We followed all the legal procedures while carrying out the demolition.
The road widening project is very important to smoothen the traffic at Bisleri Junction, and Andheri (East) in general, and will bring a lot of relief to commuters. We showed the families two flats, but they refused to accept them. This third flat is in a posh locality in Andheri (West), but still they came in the way of the road widening work.”
“Jadhav is taking advantage of being a policeman. High-ranking police officials also asked him to cooperate with us, but he remains adamant, despite getting enough time and a good flat. We never said sorry in court, as we followed all procedures,” she added. Despite repeated requests, senior officials of Andheri police station refused to comment on the matter.