1,000 protest against 'the cop with the hockey stick'
In spite of the Mumbai police's persistent efforts to nip their protest movement in the bud, demonstrators persevered and pulled off a peaceful protest march yesterday at Carter Road against ACP Vasant Dhoble.
1,000 protesters flocked to Carter Road and staged a protest for two hours. In addition to the usual sloganeering and placards that decried the archaic laws and their arbitrary implementation (‘Dhoble go back!’), the young citizens spearheading the movement were seen distributing 500 thermocol hockey stick cutouts, in mock protest of Dhoble, who often wields one on his many raids.
The stick has become the controversial cop’s trademark, a mascot of sorts in his war against Mumbai’s nightlife. On Saturday, Khar police played spoilsport when they denied permission for the youth rally organised in Bandra to protest against the crackdown on the city’s nightlife. They issued an order under Section 149 of IPC warning the organiser not to create a law and order problem.
The warning failed to stymie protesters, who marched from Otters Club to the amphitheatre at Carter Road. For those who believe that the protest is solely a venture of the city’s unruly and brazen youth who are angry because they can’t party, here’s a reality check. It was 55-year-old Bandra resident Cornel Gonsalves’ idea to dole out fake hockey sticks to protesting youths, as a symbolic gesture of protest.
He said, “My intention was to convey to Mr Dhoble that thermocol hockey sticks do not hurt, but the real ones do. It is not right for cops to maintain outdated laws, and then fine and extort victims in their name. I am an old man, but I totally support the youth in their protest against the way in which the Social Service branch is targeting pubs and restaurants.”
27-year-old Santacruz resident Payal Jairaj, who participated in the rally, said, “We are not here to criticise the Mumbai police, but to protest against archaic laws that have killed Mumbai’s nightlife. We are also outraged by the way these archaic laws are being misused. We need to raise our voice against this, and hence we decided to support the rally.”
Well-known faces were seen at the protest, like Sandeep Soparkar.Rahul Kanal, who organised the rally, said, “We are happy that we were not stopped by anyone and we could display our grievances. We are planning to meet the Chief Minister soon to raise all our concerns.”
31-year-old Bandra resident Elton Rodriques said, “The protest is the need of the hour. We work all day, and in the evenings we just want to relax and meet friends. But with these recent raids, we are losing out on these simple pleasures.”
Karan Varyani who went several times to Khar police but failed to get permission, said, “It is disappointing that they did not give us permission even for a simple peaceful protest. However we staged the rally. Wrong things are happening in the name of moral policing. If they want to arrest us, let them – this is Talibanism right here in Mumbai.”
With inputs from Saurabh Vaktania