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No history sheet on 100-year-old police stations in Mumbai

Although labelled as heritage structures, there is no historical data on six British-era police stations in the city

mumbai Updated: Jul 10, 2018 16:00 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Police stations,Heritage
Colaba police station was established in 1906.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

Formerly known as Paltan road police station, the Mata Ramabai Ambedkar (MRA) Marg police station is undergoing a facelift as part of its centenary celebrations. However, apart from ‘1918’ inscribed at the entrance of the police station and a board with a heritage tag, there are no records at the police station that tells its history.

“There is no juna manus (old man) here who would know about the history of this police station. All we know that it is turning 100 this year, which is why we are renovating the structure,” said an officer from the police station.

Records with historians state that MRA police station was formerly known as Paltan road police station because the marine battalion used to stay in the barracks that were built around the station. The commanding officer of this marine battalion was British and Indians who would work under him. Eventually, the name was changed to Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Marg police station, after BR Ambedkar’s wife.

“Earlier, there was an Old Bazaar Gate police station, which would double up as police quarters and office, and housed two police stations for Fort (North) and Fort (South). After it split, it became Esplanade police station in Fort (South) and Paltan road in Fort (North). Esplanade was later called Azad Maidan police station,” said Deepak Rao, police historian.

Officers from deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Zone 1, under whose jurisdiction MRA Marg police station falls, were unavailable for comments. Senior officers from DCP’s office Zone 2, under whose jurisdiction Dadasaheb Bhadkamkar (DB) Marg police station falls, which celebrated its 100th year around 15 days back, also said they have no historical records of DB Marg police station.

“Some police stations that were constructed 100 years back don’t really have a heritage tag. However, we are trying to maintain them. We maintain the criminal records of the station, however, historical data are difficult to maintain,” said a senior officer from DCP Zone 2.

Currently, DB Marg police station, which was earlier called Lamington Road, after Lord Lamington, the Crown Governor of then Bombay from 1903-1907, has a stone erection that commemorates the celebration held on June 20, 2018.On the occasion of DM Marg police station’s 100-year celebrations, a senior officer from DB Marg, said, “In 1964, the street was renamed from Lamington Road to Dr Dadasaheb Bhadkamkar Road, after a famous social worker in the area. Therefore, the name of the police station was also changed.”

However, though there is no documented evidence giving out the history of the structure, the neo-classical architectural style of the police station stands as a testimony to the days gone by.

“It was a trendy style of the early 20th century, and various other structures in Agripada and Bombay Central are also built in a similar style. The strong masonry work that has gone into the construction reflects the technology and materials available in those days,” said Vikas Dilawari, conservationist architect.

REVISITING HISTORY
HT explores some of the prominent police stations from the colonial era which withstood the test of time
COLABA POLICE STATION - 1906
A tablet located inside the police station’s garden reads – "This tablet marks the site of the former crossing of about 300 yards of the creek that separated the Island of Bombay from Old Woman’s Island. The creek was filed in 1888."
This police station has barracks. Historians say barracks were made for officers to reach the station quickly
GAMDEVI POLICE STATION - 1917
PHOTOS: ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HT
It is called the city’s first ‘old modern police station’
Officers of the police station were a part of the force that had lathi-charged and used tear gas on the revolutionaries at August Kranti Maidan, where Mahatma Gandhi had delivered the Quit India speech in August 1942
Mani Bhavan, which was the focal point of Gandhi’s political activities, is approximately 100 metres away from the station
According to historians, Gamdevi was the first police station under the Police Accommodation Scheme for modern Mumbai, 1909, wherein the accommodation for its personnel was provided behind the police station
It was considered to be one of the most important stations during the pre-Independence period because senior imperial officers of the British-era also lived in the area of their jurisdiction, which covered Malabar Hill area and Chowpatty
MAHIM POLICE STATION – 1923
There is a green cupboard in the ante-room of the chambers of the senior inspector of police, which bears the following inscription: "Hazrat Makhdoom Faquih Ali Sahib, Mahim Dargah. SSE Raymond Esquire, Inspector-in-charge, Mahim police station, 1935." The cupboard has valuables, which are carried to Mahim dargah on the first day of Urs. During Urs, the procession of Makdoom Shah Baba is led by the deputy commissioner of the police of the zone
PYDHONIE POLICE STATION - 1860
The city’s first police station Historians say the police station was built like a fort with all the offices on the first floor and above. This is because, the British had few officers posted at the police station and after the mutiny of 1857, they were concerned about their safety Historians claim that the structure is one of the oldest state executive offices in the city Officers at the police station claim that the police station has one of the oldest lock-ups.

First Published: Jul 10, 2018 16:00 IST