Aftab Siddiqui has been frantically sending emails and messages to people in her neighbourhood in Khar asking them to pledge their support for the reinstatement of additional commissioner of police Vasant Dhoble.
Cynthia Fernandes, a Kalina resident, has also been making similar calls to condemn the transfer of the ‘upright and honest’ officer.
Residents in the city’s western suburbs including Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, Vakola and Juhu are protesting the hasty transfer of ACP Dhoble from the Vakola division to the police control room, and have launched signature campaigns to support him. Petitions will then be sent to home minister RR Patil. Almost 90 citizens’ organisations across the suburban belt have started campaigns demanding he be reinstated. Dhoble was transferred after a hawker, Madan Jaiswal, died during an eviction drive supervised by him in Santacruz.
“From the first day Dhoble assumed duty, he was very helpful. He managed to evict a sizeable section of illegal hawkers in the area,” said Siddiqui, chairperson, 33rd Road Advanced Locality Management. “Residents work closely with the police and civic officials, so our opinions have to be considered before taking such decisions.”
According to Anil Joseph, chairperson, Perry Road Residents’ Association, “If we, as citizens, do not stand up to support an honest officer, tomorrow we cannot expect the police and civic officials to support us in times of need.”
So far, more than thousand citizens have already signed up. “We are ready to fight till the very end. If required, we are willing to even take to the streets and demand the reinstatement of a cop such as Dhoble,” said Fernandes, chairperson of a Kalina-based ALM.
Apart from residents, even traders and retailers in the suburbs are joining the protest. “Unless we have strict and upright officers such as Dhoble, who work fearlessly, we cannot expect an encroachment-free city,” said Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.
But hawkers want Dhoble to stay out. “We will be meeting MP Priya Dutt on Thursday to discuss this issue and to ensure that Dhoble’s transfer is not cancelled,” said Dayashankar Singh, president of Azad Hawker’s Union.
Hawkers shut their stalls for an hour on Monday evening and lit candles in Jaiswal’s memory. (Inputs from Puja Changoiwala)