If you live in Mumbai, and go out to clubs, chances are you know the name Vasant Dhoble. His name trends on Twitter at the weekends, as party-goers wonder where he will strike tonight. Some even compare him to Batman.
Dhoble, an assistant police commissioner, works from 9pm to 6.30am raiding the city’s dens of ill-repute. His trademark? A hockey stick, which he uses to make sure the bad guys get his point. He’s swiftly become (in)famous for cracking down on illegal parties and fighting Mumbai’s booming sex trade. Sex workers have reportedly memorized his face in the hope they can get out quick if they spot him, though Dhoble claims to have rescued over 400 women from the industry.
Critics say that Dhoble is overzealous in following Mumbai’s archaic laws; for example, the Guardian says it is a “criminal offence if anyone commits any obscene act, sings, recites or utters any obscene words, in or near any public space”; another law says only 10 couples are allowed on the dance floor.
Videos released online show that his methods are harsh. One shows a group of German women who he mistakenly arrested as prostitutes. Another shows him waving a hockey stick at juice store staff before aggressively manhandling the owner. The store owners claim they don’t even serve alcohol and have no idea why they were targeted by Dhoble, who wasn’t wearing a uniform at the time.
His actions are definitely controversial — 1,000s of young people have protested his actions, accusing him of creating “Talibanism right here in Mumbai.” Dhoble’s background is also suspect: Mid-Day reports that he has been suspended, dismissed and even sentenced to 7 years in prison during his time as a police officer, for crimes including corrupt on and even torture. He is currently facing an inquiry from the National Commission for Women (NCW) into one heavy-handed raid.
I know people don’t think good about me. This is a free country. I cannot change people’s perception. They are free to think what they want. I am not concerned about public perception, I am concerned with my work. That is all that matters to me.”
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