He is often clad in crisp white full-sleeve shirts and black trousers as he never knows when a court will summon him. He keeps a hockey stick in his official vehicle so that it comes in handy while disciplining law breakers. His hot pursuit of illegalities has often landed 54-year-old Vasant Raghunath Dhoble, assistant commissioner of police, in several controversies during his 34-year old career with the Mumbai police.
The party spoiler of Mumbai was summarily shunted out of the social service branch (SSB) as soon as a change in guard took place at the highest office in the city police in September last year. Even after his posting in a relatively obscure job as the ACP, Vakola division, Dhoble continued cracking the whip on illegalities in his area.
Not long ago, posted as an inspector at the Byculla police station, Dhoble spelt terror among unauthorised hawkers in south central Mumbai during 2003-04. His action had then prompted the hawker’s union to organise several protests. Dhoble remained unfazed and continued his action till he completed his tenure in Byculla.
Some years prior to that, Dhoble found himself in a controversy following the encounter killing of alleged Abu Salem gang operative Abu Sayma alias Javed Fawda. Though the high court validated the police action, alleged to be a case of mistaken identity, the matter is now pending in the Supreme Court.
Dhoble had created ripples in the Dawood Ibrahim gang when he arrested top Dawood lieutenant Sharad Shetty in 1987 during his posting in the crime branch. This forced Shetty to flee to Dubai after he came out on bail never to return Mumbai again, knowing that Dhoble was waiting for him.
The six-foot-something Dhoble would pass off as a man lost in his own world as he walks with his head bent in slow strides, with a bunch of papers under his arm. He is a vegetarian and a teetotaller. His soft-spoken ways come as a stark contrast to his aggression when he is in action. Though highly secretive about his plans and operations, Dhoble is known for his fierce integrity and keenness for details.