Hundreds of residents from Santacruz (East) protested outside the area’s police station on Sunday demanding their ‘hero’, assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Vasant Dhoble, is transferred back. They submitted a petition at the police station asking for his return.
Dhoble was transferred on Saturday to the Mumbai police control room after a hawker, Madan Jaiswal, died during an eviction drive supervised by him on Friday. A Criminal Investigation Department (CID) enquiry has also been ordered into allegations blaming him for the hawker’s death. The autopsy said that the hawker had died of brain haemorrhage .
“The hawker died of natural causes, yet the police are holding Dhoble responsible. Why was he transferred when he was doing something good for us?” said Dashrat Dangre, 33, a resident who participated in the protest rally from Dutta Mandir road to the police station. “While ACP Dhoble was here, crime was under control. We felt safe with him around. We want him back.” Protestors carried banners and shouted slogans in support of Dhoble.
Residents said Dhoble only took action against illegal hawkers. Officials, too, have confirmed this. Vishwas Nangre-Patil, additional commissioner of police, west region said, “Most of the hawkers did not have permits, while the few that did had illegally extended their stalls inviting action.”
Hawkers claimed that they were evicted from a hawking zone, but the BMC disagreed. “The area is not a designated hawking zone. Since it is a main road, we regularly take action against all the hawkers there. But on Friday, the BMC had not initiated a drive in the area,” said MD Pimple, assistant commissioner H-East ward, which includes Santacruz.
The rally began at 4.20pm and saw hundreds of participants. “When they can transfer him in a day for no fault of his, why can they not bring him back to the division to protect civilians? Only if we had some more officers like him, our city would be cleaned up in no time,” said Nishant Kawadia, 31, a resident.
Meanwhile, illegal hawkers were back at Jawaharlal Nehru road with their wares. They pulled down banners that were put up in memory of Jaiswal on Sunday morning and went back to business, said the his relative.
Sabir Ansari, 35, who sells snacks there, said, “We cannot shut down our business forever. We have a family to think about.”