Mumbai is Not Scared Anymore
Mumbai has given birth to many gangsters but now the city has some good men on the job. The city is not scared.
As I start to write this piece, gangster Chhota Shakeel is trending on Twitter because Yakub Memon’s hanging has made him angry. He calls it ‘legal murder’ and warns India of consequences.
I was covering the Yakub Memon story from Mumbai on Thursday and spent the day reporting from outside the Memon family home in Mahim, as his body arrived from Nagpur. Yes, the mood was tense, very tense. Going by the number of security forces in Mahim, it was clear that the cops were ready to handle any ‘situation’, which also means somewhere that they were expecting a ‘situation’.
I saw Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria doing the rounds. He knows Mumbai better than all of us. Being one of the top investigators of the 1993 serial blast case, he took no chance and seemed to have posted every single cop on the street to protect the city.
Outside the Memon home, reporters spoke to each other softly, everyone was only murmuring until a drunk ran in the middle of the road and started shouting, “Mere bhai ko phansi diya! Dekhna aaj itni goliya chalegi, tum sab maare jaaoge!”. The cops ignored him and let him be as they had bigger things to handle. This guy couldn’t be taken seriously but one couldn’t deny that he added to the tension.
Some bystanders had known Yakub since childhood, he grew up with them and never returned. Only his body did, in a black hearse with many security cars. A fleet of cars zoomed past his house and stopped right outside the Mahim dargah. The cars crossed us at full speed. Neighbours came out in large numbers to stand by the family.
Everything went off peacefully and once again Maria and team got credit for it. The word among crime reporters was, “Arre Maria king hai. Uske hote koi aage nahi aayega!” A few months ago when a small riot between two communities started at Lalbaug, Maria left an event and rushed to the spot and took control of the situation in less than 30 minutes.
I have grown up in Mumbai and am aware of every attack, encounter, riot and gangster, having covered most of them! Mumbai cops Pradeep Sharma, Daya Nayak, Sachin Waze, Late Vijay Salaskar and many more have gunned down a lot of criminals which brought peace to the city and reduced gang wars to zero.
In Chembur, Chotta Rajan’s Ganpati Mandal used to be a huge annual affair in the 90s, crores were spent on Ganesh Chaturti and the entire Tilak Nagar ground used to be booked for 11 days until an honest Mumbai BMC’s Deputy Commissioner Govind Ragho Khairnar took charge. This man rose from being a clerk to a Deputy Commissioner because nothing came between him and his job. He was called Mumbai’s demolition man. When he was posted in North East Mumbai, he razed every illegal structure be it a temple, church or an illegal shop in his jurisdiction. He then threatened to demolish the Tilak Nagar Ganesh Pandal which is reportedly funded by gangster Chota Rajan every year. Soon Rajan’s festivities were cut to size and all the tamasha has been low profile since then.
Mumbai has given birth to many dreaded gangsters but brave cops are born here too and now they outnumber the bad guys. Gone are the days when Mumbai was scared of the Rajans and Dawoods. This is a new era. In the ‘90s, no one would had the guts to speak out against them but now look at the jokes people are making of Chotta Shakeel’s threats.
Mumbai is not scared anymore.
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