The Mumbai police commissioner’s one-man army, thought to be the officer who would mop up the force’s image, has ended up soiling it some more. Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble, known to be Commissioner Arup Patnaik’s right-hand man, was brought into the Social Service branch of the Mumbai police to rein in the city’s nightlife. Today, he himself seems to be running smack into one controversy after another.
Till date, Dhoble has allegedly been involved in several cases of assault. Most recently, he was accused of branding innocent collegians and housewives as ‘sex workers’. Patnaik has so far reserved comment or action on the allegations against Dhoble. Sunil Paraskar, official spokesperson for the commissioner, said, “There are a few cases against him in court. Since the matter is sub judice, no action can be taken.” A former director general of police, requesting anonymity, said, “There is a legal procedure for every raid conducted by the police officers. If this officer is picking up people in an arbitrary manner, it means he has the support of his superiors.”
On April 15, Dhoble, feared by bar owners and sex racketeers because of his unforgiving raids, allegedly thrashed a suburban restaurant manager and threatened his staff with a hockey stick for running business from the footpath and creating nuisance. Dressed in civilian clothes, he was caught on camera dispensing such quick ‘justice’. Tushar Joshi, owner of Vile Parle’s Amar Juice Centre, is still awaiting the police department’s response to the cop’s unprovoked action. He said, “We want justice. Since we spoke out against the ACP we have been harassed every now and then. We are waiting for the home minister’s reply. We hope stern action will be taken.”
Other than Joshi, a 64-year-old senior citizen is also seeking to right the wrongs Dhoble allegedly committed against him. Yusuf Gulamnabi Bhure, owner of Mogul Sarai restaurant, Bandra has written to the minority commission (copy of letter with MiD DAY) seeking justice after the ACP hit him on his ear last December, damaging his hearing. The commission has written to the home secretary, asking for an inquiry into the matter.
Yusuf, his son, said, “We have already moved court and complained to the minority commission. The nearest police station did not take our complaint so we had no choice but to take this step. No cop should be given so much power that they manhandle anyone and everyone and create terror in the minds of restaurateurs. We need justice. If we are doing something wrong or breaching rules, cops have full authority to close our establishment, but who has given them the power to hit anyone? We are not terrorists.” When contacted Baba Siddique, chairman, minority commission, confirmed that a letter has been issued to the commission. “The issue was raised in a meeting held on Tuesday. We have written to the home secretary to initiate inquiry and also to help us get all official documents in this case,” he said.
Nawab Malik, MLA and committee member, echoed Siddique’s sentiments. More recently, on April 29, Dhoble and his team detained 16 women and branded them as sex workers. However investigations by this newspaper revealed that many of the detainees are college-going girls or housewives from working class families, who had gone to the pub only to have a good time.
When asked about the claims made by the families of the detainees in the raid on Madness pub, ACP Vasant Dhoble had told MiD DAY, “If there are so many complaints against me, they should go and register an FIR.” He added, “Anyway, MiD DAY seems to know so much about everything.”
Dhoble’s track record
Suspended (1989): For taking bribe in Pune
Sentenced (1994): To 7 years imprisonment
Fined: Rs 1 lakh for custodial death of Abdul Gaffer Khan after alleged torture (jail term overthrown by HC in 1996)
Dismissed (1994): For Khan’s death (reinstated in 1996)
Pending: Departmental enquiry into Khan’s death after SC order
Responsible for: Misplacing 12 dossiers related to gangster Dawood Ibrahim
Senior cops speak
The social service branch was formed in the late ‘70s by then police commissioner ES Modak. Its job is to tackle the problems faced by women such as sexual harassment and domestic violence. Actions such as thrashing people randomly are totally uncalled for. Mumbai police’s actions need to be effective without being noisy and rude.
— MN Singh, former police commissioner
Legally, it is not correct what (Dhoble) is doing. But what do you do when the bar owners get away with such minimal punishment? The nuisance created by the eateries in the city needs to be tackled strictly. Somewhere, it is also the frustration of the policemen that is vented out. There has to be some accountability for the behaviour of today’s generation.
— YC Pawar, former joint CP (law and order)
Blots on the force
Late senior police inspector Arun Borude who was posted at LT Marg police station was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in Powai. The case came to light in November 2010, after the girl became pregnant and delivered a baby girl at a suburban hospital. The victim lodged a complaint at the Powai police station alleging that she was raped on several occasions by four to five persons at a house in the area. However, Borude’s name, who was found dead on railway tracks in Ahmednagar district in December 2011, was dropped from the list of the accused after his death. The court acquitted the other three accused in February this year.
Police Inspector Shinde, attached to Unit VIII of the Crime Branch for the last five years, was suspended two weeks ago for helping in the escape of Vijay Palande, main accused in the murders of Delhi business consultant Arunkumar Tikku and aspiring film producer Karan Kakkad. Shinde is related to Palande. His brother’s wife is Palande’s sister.
The officials of the Social Service branch raided Cleopatra Day Spa located in Seven Bungalows, Andheri (West), after receiving a tip-off that it was a front for a flesh trade racket. Investigations revealed that the said premises is owned by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Nandkumar Chaugule. Following the controversy, Chaugule was transferred out of Mumbai as punishment.
In June 2011, Jadhav, attached to the Anti-Narcotics Cell of the Mumbai police, was arrested along with his associate from a rave party held at Khalapur in Raigad district. Around 290 youths including 59 girls from well-off families had attended the party.