Horse-mounted policemen will be deployed at prominent beaches in Mumbai this year to ensure there is no crowding at Ganesh immersion points. This will be the first major deployment of the Mounted Unit since its re-induction into the Mumbai Police in January after a gap of 88 years.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Local Arms) S Jayakumar said Wednesday around 10 horse-mounted policemen have been deployed at Girgaum, Dadar and Juhu Chowpatty. “They will oversee the immersion process and ensure it goes off smoothly and there is no crowding.”
The Mounted Unit is especially useful in places where a traditional police vehicle cannot enter, like the beaches, SP Ahmednagar Akhilesh Singh, who played an important role in training the Mounted Unit, said. At least 13 horses have been inducted into the unit so far and the animals were kept at a temporary stable in Marol due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
“During the lockdown, there were no visible crowds on the roads, hence there was no specific need to use them [the Mounted Unit] for patrolling. Then the monsoon began. Eventually, we decided to use them for patrolling at the beaches during [Ganesh] immersion,” Jayakumar said.
In 1932, then Bombay Police Commissioner Sir Patrick Kelly had noted that the rising number of motor vehicles had left little space for police horses to move about and had decided to replace the animals with patrol cars. It was only in 2018, when then Mumbai police commissioner Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, now Maharashtra DGP, had submitted a proposal to acquire 30 horses for Rs 1.5 crore.
The state government had sanctioned the proposal in March last year, and a 2.5-acre plot at Mumbai Police headquarters in Andheri East was identified to build stables. A total of 13 horses were acquired last year that include seven thoroughbreds named Padmakosha, Shivalik Skies, Divine Solitaire, Beekwerk, Severus and Golden Orchid and six Marwaris named Veer, Toophan, Shera, Chetak, Baadal and Bijli. The horses were trained for four months for the Republic Day parade this year.
In a video tweeted by Mumbai Police recently, police riders were spotted wearing a blue sherwani with silver trimming, white breeches and turbans designed by prominent designer Manish Malhotra.
An officer said the few times that they had patrolled the promenade, they had become a centre of attraction. “A lot of people came forward asking for photographs and selfies with the policemen on horsebacks,” the officer said.
There are a few trained policemen assigned to these units. IPS officers, too, are trained in horse-riding at the National Police Academy, although lower-rung officers are deputed on patrolling duties.