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New CP cuts moral policeman Dhoble to size

On his very first day as Mumbai’s Commissioner of Police,Satyapal Singh cut to size the profile of Vasant Dhoble,the assistant commissioner of police known for his raids on bars in the city,by withdrawing the special dispensation his predecessor had allowed to Dhoble’s Social Service Branch.

Written by Joshua Patnigere | Mumbai |
August 24, 2012 5:55:10 am

On his very first day as Mumbai’s Commissioner of Police,Satyapal Singh cut to size the profile of Vasant Dhoble,the assistant commissioner of police known for his raids on bars in the city,by withdrawing the special dispensation his predecessor had allowed to Dhoble’s Social Service Branch.

The SSB,which used to report directly to the CP during Arup Patnaik’s tenure,will once again be a unit of the Crime Branch. Patnaik had taken it out of the Crime Branch fold,and it reported to him through the Deputy CP (Enforcement).

“The SSB will now be a part of the Crime Branch,” Singh told journalists. Singh himself was Joint CP,Crime Branch in Mumbai during March 2003-June 2004 and had spearheaded encounters and crackdowns on the mafia at its peak.

To a question,the new CP also said he did not want any special squads. Patnaik is said to have – he denied it – informally assigned special squads that effectively diluted the role of the Crime Branch during his 18 months as CP.

Until Patnaik had taken charge,the SSB,the Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU) and the Crime Branch Control units reported to the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime). Last year,after he took charge,a notification was reportedly issued saying all three units would report to a DCP (Enforcement),who would report to the Commissioner.

While the move was seen as one made to curb the power of the Crime Branch,the only reason given was that the Crime Branch had a lot of important cases to solve,and that the unit should not be bogged down with “petty work”.

Patnaik roped in Dhoble and gave him a mandate to crack down on establishments flouting the law. While the raids against gambling dens,brothels and establishments which hired minors received praise,the SSB came under flak for its crackdown on pubs and night-clubs. Former Director General of Police K Subrahmanyam too had cautioned against the Dhoble style of moral policing,saying law enforcers must act with “common sense” and not force “archaic laws” on people.

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