Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble, 57, has been accused by his severest critics of trying to Taliban-ise Mumbai. Mr Dhoble, who heads the Mumbai Police's Social Service branch, has been credited with the title of Mumbai’s Night Raider who is Usually armed, often with cameras, at least once with a hockey stick, Mr Dhoble arrives to enforce what many in the city believe are archaic laws.
Enforcing laws on bars, hookah joints, lodges indulging in sex trade, pubs and food joints. The use of Bombay Police Act to enforce law has not gone down well with several communities especially in South Bombay.
Many outlets and joints were booked under the Bombay Police Act, 1951, the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act, 1948, the Prevention of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act and the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act.
Backed by state home minister R R Patil, and with Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik Dhoble says criticism does not affect him. I was appalled over the flouting of rules when I started raiding several points said Dhoble.
On June 8, Dhoble raided Cafe Zoe in Lower Parel, claiming that the establishment was playing loud music without a proper license and that the place was overcrowded, citing a rule of the Bombay Police Act which states that only 166 patrons can be accommodated in a 1,000-sq-ft area.
On June 5, Dhoble also courted controversy after the SSB raided Masala Curry, a restaurant in Andheri (West) and detained 11 women on suspicion of being involved in a prostitution racket.
After these two raids Dhoble became a nationwide debate with all the TV news channels showcasing Dhoble with a hockey stick shoving away a Bar’s manager, and vandalizing premises. Prime time coverage was given to Vasant Dhoble’s raids and was monitored frequently by news rooms.
Media and Public reaction.
Basically after the uproar over Dhoble raiding several places citing illegal activities, 2 major groups developed, one which was supporting Dhoble of his sincere duties to safeguard rights of the citizens and the 2nd group which said was leading to end the night life of Mumbai and the use of Archaic laws was an injustice done to several people. People were on roads protesting against Dhoble while another group was applauding for his raids.
In a scathing editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamna' The Sena Chief Bal Thackeray Accused Dhoble of being Possessed and keeping the whole of Mumbai as hostage. ACP was also termed as mafia.
Nothing wrong in imposing right values by Mumbai Police said The Hindu in the Editorial.
India today termed him as Mumbai’s Night Raider.
While Mid-day strongly criticised him in the articles titled “ Unsocial Service of ACP Dhoble”, in which he was compared to Hitler.
Manuela Saldhana, 48, Social worker from Bandra wrote an article for Hindustan times stating “We salute you, Mr Vasant Dhoble, and appreciated his ongoing raids in the locality.
Several socities and community groups came forward to support Dhoble , Bandra Khar residents group were in the forefront supporting the moral policing by the SS branch.
Uproar on Social Networking sites.
A Facebook page called 'Dhoble - Oppressor of the Innocent Public' has 20,000 members. Writer and commentator Pritish Nandy has described him as 'Public Enemy No 1' on Twitter.
While ACP Dhoble trended in all over India with people criticising him with satire as well terming him as Desi Batman.
(An assignment for Journalism and Public Opinion)