Last Monday, Police Sub-Inspector Vijay Sonar (48) travelled from his Kurla home to Pydhonie police station, where he’s posted. He hasn’t been home since then.
With Ramzan drawing to a close and the Ganesh festival about to begin, the police are on high alert. Several officers and constables have been on duty round the clock for days at a time. Sonar is among them.
On patrol for the entire day, Sonar missed the last train to Kurla on Tuesday night. He decided to join the night patrol and wound up work at 4 am, but was back on duty at 11 am.
Pydhonie police station’s jurisdiction includes sensitive areas such as Bhendi Bazaar, Dongri and Mohammed Ali Road and officers need to be on their toes during the festival season.
“I have to sleep and bathe in the police station. I cannot relax until the Ganesh festival ends,” said Sonar. “Ramzan is a big festival in our area. More than 6 lakh people turn up on the streets sometimes; managing them is a huge task.”
Sonar’s job during the festival season includes making the rounds of 13 localities, including Ibrahim Rehmatullah Road, Bhendi Bazaar, Mohammed Ali Road and Minara Masjid.
Holding his cane and carrying a revolver in a holster, Sonar sets out each day. He has a word with the Ganesh mandal volunteers at Nagdevi Street, instructing them to call the police as soon as they set out to bring the idol.
He drives to Mohammed Ali Road to chat with shopkeepers and to keep an eye on miscreants. He also checks the closed-circuit TV cameras the police have installed. “We have placed eight cameras across the area and instructed masjid and mandal authorities, as well as the shopkeepers, to install cameras as a precaution,” said Sonar.
“After some communal tension in Dongri — some hawkers were beaten up for refusing donations to a Ganesh mandal — we have been on patrol almost 24 hours a day. During this bandobast, we arrested more than 13 pick-pockets and thieves,” said Sonar.
On crucial days, such as Fridays, Sonar even dons a disguise for his patrol. He wears a skullcap, puts on a fake a beard and dresses in a Pathani salwar. He walks around the police station’s jurisdiction, chatting with shoppers and keeping an eye on things. “This is a precautionary measure to identify and nab miscreants,” he said.