Mumbai: Activist tries to bring errant contractor to book, harassed by police

Mar 06, 2018, 16:39 IST | Hajra Bi

Says cop, instead of fining the contractor for violation, was seen chit-chatting with him and threatened to arrest her

The stretch in Chakala that has been barricaded illegally, according to activist Madhuri James (below). Pics/Sneha Kharabe
The stretch in Chakala that has been barricaded illegally, according to activist Madhuri James (below). Pics/Sneha Kharabe

An AGNI activist has alleged police harassment for trying to bring an errant contractor to book. Narrating last afternoon's incident, Madhuri James said she was on her way to Andheri from JB Nagar via Chakala when a civil worker stopped her auto, saying the route had been temporarily made a one way for culvert repair work. James, however, noticed that the work was going on the other side of the road. She went to speak to the contractor and asked him about the work order. After a lot of arguing and dilly-dallying, he reluctantly showed the same, which had expired in May 2016. James then called up the police control room.

Madhuri James

Chit for chat
A local told her a policeman was chatting with the contractor. James went there and saw it was the beat chowky duty officer, sub-inspector Ajay Baban. Even as Baban insisted the work order was proper, James said it should be pasted on the barricade to make people aware about the work. She also asked why that stretch had been barricaded when work was being done on the other side; to this, the contractor said he had been asked to do so by a local corporator.

When James insisted that the contractor had failed to follow rules, and hence, should be booked, Baban asked her to come to the police station with him. And yet, James alleged, the policeman kept chatting with the contractor, and that's when she decided to film them.

Khaki dadagiri
On reaching the police station, according to James, even as she demanded that the contractor be taken to task, the officer refused to do so and instead asked her to lower her voice and delete the photos and video she had taken. The officer allegedly threatened to file a case against her and detain her for filming a policeman. James, however, refused to hand over her phone, and the matter reached the senior officer at Andheri police station, who ordered that James be allowed to leave and the contractor be fined Rs 1,200 under section 102 of the Bombay Police Act.

James called up her colleague James Koreth, who reached the police station and demanded that Baban be booked for harassing her. The two have submitted a written complaint against him.

The WhatsApp law
When mid-day went to the work site last evening, the work order still hadn't been pasted on the barricade. James said, "These contractors not only fail to abide by rules, but they also don't provide any safety to their workers. Such carelessness will bring serious harm to either their own people or the public."

Speaking on Baban, she said his reaction and action was a result of his ego. "He couldn't even explain properly which law prohibits a person from filming a police officer. He merely said he had read it in some WhatsApp forward," she added. Another officer confirmed the news and said the contractor had been fined and municipal officials concerned informed. He added that the police station had received a complaint against their officer, and it would be investigated.

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