by tybmmjourno

The hockey-stick wielding cop

However much may he be loved or hated; there are some facts that have to be known about him…

It is the typical Bollywood masala flick formula- an angry copy, with his oh-so-ever-zealous agendas, ever controversial, hated and loved in equal measure. The man who has been the target of ridicule by the media as well as on several social networking sites; the hockey-stick wielding man who is known to be the “dabangg of Mumbai”; the man whose zeal is to ensure that late night bars do not defy rules related to music and overcrowding dance floors; the man because of whom all the women of the city are scared to be seen out of their homes after 12am – harboring the fear of being held and tagged as “prostitutes”; the man who gives a new meaning to the phrase- “ghar jao bache warna Dhoble aajayega”; is none other than our very own- Vasant Dhoble, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) of the Social Service (SS) department, the man under whose ‘gunda raj’, Mumbai’s nightlife is struggling to stay alive!

Some say that he has made the nightlife of Mumbai come to an abrupt halt while some say that he is simply trying to ‘clean up’ the society by protecting our ‘culture’ from further damage, which has already been distorted due to westernization.

However, unintentionally and unwittingly,         
he has largely contributed to the employment sector; by giving rise to an entirely new industry- that of informants who specialize in the sleuthing field.
Apparently, Mumbai’s arguably most
unpopular person has a network of more
than 200 informers who keep him posted
about the bars, pubs and discos violating
government rules. Interestingly, this job
is applicable to both kinds- one, for those
who keep Dhoble updated and the other who want to know about Dhoble’s whereabouts and plan of action in order to be prepared to take preventive measures.

The moment Dhoble’s official white SUV leaves the headquarters at Crawford market; the informants follow and cover all possible routes that he could be travelling and depending on which turn he takes, they alert the pubs, bars, hookah parlors and clubs that are in the line of sight. Who are these informants? Well, these are nothing but boys hired by pubs and club owners and their henchmen, who keep their ‘bosses’ abreast about Dhoble’s movements.
But given that Dhoble is Dhoble, he knows how to give them THE slip! There have been instances when he parks his SUV in front of a private building and pretends to go upstairs but actually gets into another car or auto-rickshaw to head towards his destination.

So, before making plans for a friends’ night out, think twice. In Mumbai now, any movement after 12.30 am is almost considered a crime. This means everyone needs to get home by then. But even then, you might not be safe, says Fashion choreographer Alison Woodham. Her 22-year-old son Ronit invited a few friends over for dinner recently. “The doorbell rang just as Ronit, his friends having left after a hearty home meal, was preparing to wrap things up for the night. It was the police who said that Ronit needs to come to the police station and pay Rs 12000 as no one is allowed to have people over after 12. They finally took Rs 3,000 and left.” After lodging a complaint at the local police station, she is now concerned about her children. “What if these cops find me somewhere?’ And I have an 18-year-old daughter. What if she gets bullied by these cops when she goes out?”
People have started questioning their human rights. And who blames them? These cops have the apparent ‘authority’ to barge in your homes or strip-search you while in a club- WITHOUT a warrant!

If someone like Dhoble can hold the city’s nightlife in this manner, then the blame falls squarely on outdated laws. Imagine: the age for marriage and eligibility to vote has been slipped down to 18, but to drink alcohol, the allowed age limit has been upped from 21 to 25; for reasons best known to the Congress-NCP led government in Maharashtra.

In the aftermath, a few more questions emerge. One, the police appear to be on an inexplicable targeted rampage, shutting dozens of clubs and bars in the last few months, dredging up archaic laws that are an era old as pretexts for making busts. The laws have existed for decades, why the rush to enforce them now? Assistant commissioner of police Vasant Dhoble’s explanation that this “moral policing” is to “save” us from “exploitation”, is hardly rational! It’s like the whites (British) repressing the browns (India), all over again!
Baajate raho!
But what’s peculiar is his hockey stick which hardly leaves his side. When asked if he plays hockey, he says,
“Khelte bhi hain, bajaate bhi hain.” (I play it, I use it too.)

–Sakshi Raina
TYBMM Journo.

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