From a modest vegetable vendor near Manmad railway station to a cog in the wheel of the mafia racket, Popat Shinde has come a long way in the past thirty years.
Standing testimony to his meteoric rise is his two-storey duplex bungalow at Ramabai Nagar. The fact that almost every resident knows the exact location of his residence reflects the clout that Shinde wields in the area. Equally prominent is the fear in the eyes when questioned about him.
“In the beginning, Shinde sold vegetables, vada pav and also worked as a porter for a living. Eventually, he moved on to committing petty crimes that helped him earn money and clout,” said a reluctant local resident on condition of anonymity.
The resident added that thirty years ago, Shinde lived in a petite room as he struggled to eke out his living. “Involvement in petty crimes and roadside robberies helped him gather money to enter the business of oil-mixing,” he affirmed. According to him, Shinde’s sons too had joined him in the business. Helping them function their racket brazenly was the support from the police and local politicians.
Shinde also has a bunch of followers who assisted him in his business. “Shinde is a very good man. He took care of us,” said Prafull who insisted that Shinde would have committed the act only on being provoked by the official. “There should be a detailed investigation in the racket,” said Deepak who stood alongside Prafull.
Shinde’s two sons, Vikas and Kunal, too have been arrested.