Bullets ended ritual: winter visit home

Arun Raghunath Chitte used to visit his village every year to meet his elderly parents.

Written by Aiswarya A | Mumbai | Published:January 20, 2009 3:08 am

Slain police driver’s family recalls hardships during his 13-year stint

Arun Raghunath Chitte used to visit his village every year to meet his elderly parents. For each visit,he used to save money two months in advance. After his trip in January last year when his father died,36-year-old Chitte started saving his holidays and money to make another visit on his father’s death anniversary.

But Chitte’s mother saw him a month earlier than expected,brought home in a shroud.

Chitte,who was anti-extortion cell chief Vijay Salaskar’s driver,died during the terrorist attack on November 26. All that remains of his 13-year stint with the police are two small,dingy rooms in the police quarters at Dharavi’s MHADA Colony and a second-hand motorcycle.

“For over a decade,he served as a policeman,but made no investments. He didn’t have a life insurance policy or any substantial savings. What you see in the room is all he owned,” said Sahebrao Chitte,his youngest brother.

A tall,framed photograph of a uniformed Chitte beaming into the camera sits atop a table at the 12×15 room where Chitte,his wife Manisha and their three girls lived for the past nine years. At the farther end of the room is the kitchen platform,besides the bathroom and adjacent toilet. A couch,a television set and a refrigerator occupy the remaining space.  

“When he was alive,we didn’t even know his salary. Recently,we saw a payment slip,which stated he earned Rs 17,000. However,according to his wife,the actual sum that used to reach them was hardly around Rs 7,000. After Rs 3,000 went on house rent,around Rs 2,000 on the children’s education and a couple of thousand into the policemen’s co-operative society,there was no scope for any savings,” said Sahebrao.

Unwilling to speak much about her husband lest she would weep in front of her children,Manisha recalls the first two years of her marriage when she had been forced to stay away from her husband,as he couldn’t afford a house even on rent. “He enrolled in 1995 and in 1997 we got married. At the time,he could not afford to even rent a house in Mumbai and we stayed with my parents for the first two years. In 1999 he took a house on rent for Rs 2,500 and in 2001 we shifted here.

“Even after coming here,his work left him hardly any time for us. It’s the lost time rather than the meager salary that kept haunting me,” she said.

Chitte,who hails from a family of vegetable vendors and farm labourers in Virgaon,used to drive a vegetable truck before joining the force. He dreamt of moving to the city and was elated when he got a job with Mumbai police. “Despite knowing it would be a life of struggle,he shifted to the city. With every year,he grew busier,his holidays shorter. Every year,he would plan an annual trip to Virgaon with family during the couple of holidays he would get during Diwali. However,this year,he cancelled the Diwali plan,knowing he would need holidays in January for his father’s first death anniversary,” said Sahebrao.

Although acquainted with the difficulties of being a policeman,Sahebrao has volunteered to join the force after seeing the respect Chitte and his family got after he laid down his life. “He may have earned a pittance but his funeral saw truckloads of flowers being brought in as a sign of respect,” said Sahebrao who will be moving in with his family into the second room,which is presently empty.

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