* Early Sunday morning,Damjibhai Savla,the owner of Roop Milan garments shop in Dadar and the President of the Dadar Merchants Association was in for a rude shock. He received a call from a fellow shopkeeper informing him about his shop being robbed. Savla rushed to the shop and found out that sarees worth Rs 35,000 were missing.
* On Monday,50 year-old Kamal Ganesh Mhaskar was walking back home when two youths on a motorcycle came speeding down the Veer Savarkar road and snatched her mangalsutra.
The residents of the Shivjai Park claim that such petty crimes are on the rise in the area. Both these cases were registered with the Shivaji Park police but no arrests have been made yet. They also said that the unchecked hawking has created problems for them. Dadar Merchants Association has written to the Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) and has expressed their concern about the growing number of crimes.
However,the Shivaji Park police refuted the residents allegations and stressed that they have given priority to investigating the crime cases than dealing with the hawking problem,which has to dealt by the BMC. No such allegations have been brought to my notice and if there has been an increase in the crime rate,it pertains to the entire city and not just the Shivaji Park area, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Milind Bharambe.
We have taken action against 450 illegal hawkers in the past couple of months. That cannot be called lack of action. However,the onus of enforcing non-hawking zones also lies with the BMC officials and whenever they have sought our help,we have provided them with the police force, said Senior Inspector Vilas Gurav from the Shivaji Park police station.
The street outside the Dadar station is supposed to be hawker-free but for the past one year it is teeming with hawkers. The space under the bridge is supposed to be kept free for passengers to pass,but the hawkers have filled up that too. There is a beat chowky a few metres away from this spot but the police officials turn a blind eye to the activities, said Sunil Shah,Secretary of the Dadar Merchants Association.
The residents also alleged that in the past three months prostitutes and drug addicts have begun to show up in the area soon after it gets dark. We were walking down the bridge near the station when we spotted a boy getting mugged. The pedestrians nearby nabbed the assailant who was stealing to buy drugs and thrashed him. The possibility of such drug addicts turning criminals is so high that we fear walking on streets at night, said an office-bearer of the Ranade Road Citizens Forum.
Members of the Dadar Merchants Association have also made a 30-minute CD of illegal hawking outside the Dadar railway station. The Ranade Road Citizens Forum,a residents group,has clicked photographs of prostitutes and drug addicts prowling the area at night. Both the groups plan to meet the Joint Commissioner personally and hand him over the recorded material.
In 2007,the residents of Shivaji Park had written to the Home Minister,Deputy Commissioner of Police and other officers expressing concern about the rise of anti-social elements in and around Vir Kotwal Garden.