Back-to-back festivals this year have made life difficult for Mumbai’s policemen. The police have been on their toes, ensuring that the celebrations are without incident.
While Gokul Ashtami was celebrated on Thursday, Ramzan entered its final phase. Eid will be celebrated in about a week’s time, while the Ganesh festival will begin on September 11. Shamsherkhan Pathan, senior police inspector at Pydhonie police station, who is in charge of the city’s most communally sensitive area, has been on the field for the past three days. “Minara Masjid hosts a large congregation and there are several dahi handis in the locality. Since Ramzan and Gokul Ashtami coincided this year, we have to work longer and harder,” said Pathan.
Two weeks ago, there was communal tension in Dongri after a Ganpati mandal’s members beat up hawkers for refusing to pay donations. “After that, we were asked to tighten security to ensure that such tensions don’t erupt again. Since then, we have been on bandobast duty every day from 4 pm till 5 am the next day. On Thursday, we had to patrol the area even during the day,” said Pathan, who stays at Dongri.
“With the Ganesh festival approaching, we have to be extra alert. There is no relaxation for us for the next 15 days,” he said. Pydhonie’s policemen have also been patrolling in plainclothes. Pathan walks through his jurisdiction undercover every evening, trying to identify potential troublemakers. “On Thursday, we deployed additional forces in Hindu-dominated areas,” said Pathan.