Dual inquiry against officer as complaints of high-handedness too mount

Vasant Dhoble, Assistant Commissioner of Police who was in the eye of the storm a few months ago for his drive against pubs and discos, was on Saturday transferred after a hawker died during an anti-vendor drive undertaken by the Mumbai Police under his supervision. Though the post-mortem report of the victim showed that he died a natural death due to brain haemorrhage, the government had already ordered a CID (Criminal Investigation Department) investigation in the matter.

A separate inquiry on the complaints of high-handedness of the officer, was also instituted. The state government has ordered Mr Dhoble’s transfer outside Mumbai to ensure impartial and free probe.

“Pending his transfer outside Mumbai, he has now been attached to the Main Control,” Sadanand Date, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) told The Hindu.

He said that the previous complaints regarding the high-handedness of the official will be investigated by the Additional Commissioner of Police (West Region).

On Friday evening at around 5.45 pm, the Vakola Police undertook an anti-vendor drive at Santacruz. During the drive, a 40-year old vendor Madan Jaiswal collapsed and was declared dead in the hospital at around 6.30 pm.

Angry vendors protested at Vakola police station and claimed that Mr Jaiswal died after being hit by Mr Dhoble during the drive. The police claimed that the vendors started running away after seeing the police vehicles and that no one was hit.

On Friday evening, the police registered a case of accidental death. Earlier in the day on Saturday, Mr Date told The Hindu that if required, changes will be made in the sections only after the post mortem report is out.

Late night on Saturday, the post mortem report was out. “He died of natural cause. He died due to brain haemorrhage. There were no external injuries on his bodies,” Tatyarao Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, told The Hindu.

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil ordered Mr Dhoble’s transfer outside the city. Police sources said that the transfer order will take some time to be implemented.

Mr Dhoble has been controversial in the past as well. During his tenure at the Social Service Branch a few months ago, he was known to raid bars, discos and pubs during late nights, armed with hockey sticks and cameras. Many patrons of these clubs alleged that Mr Dhoble implemented archaic laws and booked them for “trivial violations.” Many had complained that the city was losing out on its night life due to cops like him.

He had claimed that he was only doing his duty by booking those who were breaking laws. Two women had slapped a defamation case against him after they were taken into custody as “prostitutes” after a raid.

He was criticised widely on social networking platforms too. Some residents of housing societies though had come out in his support claiming that when they were being harassed due to the clubs and discos which played loud music till late night by violating laws, he was their own respite. A few months ago, he was transferred to Vakola division.