Deva! Deva! The things that are going on in our deadly city! We can either laugh, cry, leave town or take to the streets. We choose laughter — just as well. No rona-dhona for us. Just look at the sordid cops-and-robbers shenanigans of the past few days! Could the loathsome main players really be the folks who have almost unlimited control over our lives? From the beleaguered Chief Minister, with his henchmen to the short-lived Police Commissioner and his goons — Mumbaikars have been clutching their heads and asking, “Why is this happening to us?’’ I received the funniest memes and messages inspired by the latest Mumbai saga. I often wonder — who are these witty, clever people? How do they instantly come up with such brilliant commentary on the Theatre of the Absurd, that is Maharashtra politics today? Never before has our city’s Top Cop taken the route that Param Bir Singh took — seedha Supreme Court gaya! Wah! Ustad! But SC ne promptly bhaga diya. But one thing is certain — the MVA government is tottering. Plus, there has been a major ‘Pawar cut’ in the State. Whatever the outcome of this ‘fight to the finish’, Mumbaikars will carry on with their lives, shrug and say, ‘C’est la vie’. This has always been our strength.
Just imagine an alternative scenario: Fed up and disgusted with the way our netas and others have treated us, we, the tax payers, could have taken to the streets and indulged in the sort of goondagiri our leaders orchestrate. But Mumbaikars are made of different stuff — why should we descend to such low levels and degrade ourselves? They may be besharam — we aren’t. Let them self- destruct. This time, the story is a little different — the reputation of our police force has been compromised. Only because of a few rotten eggs in the basket. By and large, our cops are good people — over- worked and under-paid. Instead of focusing on and demanding police reforms on a priority basis, here we are playing a pitiful game of pitting senior police officers against senior ministers, not realising we are the dispensable pawns. God knows who will check- mate whom. Is disgraced API Sachin Vaze merely a fall guy, taking the rap for his mentor? Who master-minded Hiran’s murder? Vaze faces life imprisonment now that the NIA has invoked the stringent UAPA. But who was Vaze taking orders from? What was Vaze’s motive in putting his life on the line?
This has been the scenario for decades — ever since violence was introduced as the language of power in Mumbai by political parties with a one point agenda — some bogus ‘Marathi manoos’ nonsense. It started with violence against North Indian shopkeepers, followed by South Indians. Then ‘others’. Terrorised and bulldozed into silence, citizens kept their heads down and prayed the nightmare would end. It has only become worse. Fortunately, we had a few superheroes to look up to back then — like Julio Ribeiro, who at 91, has more dum than cops less than half his age. We respect the former top cop for refusing to be pulled into the current cesspool of filth. By turning down Sharad Pawar’s suggestion to head an investigation and unravel the deepening mystery of the gelatin laden car parked 300 metres from ‘Antilia’, he showed the sterling stuff he is made of — “Won’t touch it with a barge pole,’’ he bluntly stated. Why get into murky waters, he asked. Why indeed?
It was gentleman-cops like Julio Ribeiro who kept the faith of citizens and made us proud. We would often boast to foreign friends that the Mumbai police force was rated as highly as Scotland Yard — and it was! Once the slide started, there was no one of Ribeiro’s calibre to stop it.
Successive Police Commissioners left their own imprints and a few as good as institutionalised corruption. Some of them amassed enormous wealth — properties and assets that by any standards are staggering. The hafta system got legitimised and carries on brazenly even today. Of course, there were exceptions. Former PC (2004-2007) AN Roy’s recent quote, “Zero tolerance policy a must to break cop-criminal nexus’’ should become the mantra going forward. Thankfully, we still have fine police personnel invested in upholding the high moral traditions associated with the vardi they wear.
It’s Loot-Maar time, folks! Watch as the hot potato gets chucked from one tainted person to the next, and everybody claims to be a ‘scapegoat’. The only real bakras in this case are us!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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