If the recent petition by two sisters, seeking action against bar-raider cop ACP Vasant Dhoble for wrongful confinement, has not opened the eyes of senior police officials, perhaps these stories will. MiD DAY has spoken to some of the housewives, college students and working women who were picked up in a raid by Dhoble and shoved into a rehabilitation centre. After staying there for days and being tagged as sex workers, life has drastically changed for these women. Now out, four of them share their experiences.
Veena Salvi, resident of Vakola
A simple girl from a middle-class family, Veena was detained by cops from Madness where she had gone to celebrate with her friends as she had secured her first job as a receptionist at a south Mumbai shopping mall. I paid a heavy price for a just few hours of joy. I was not doing anything outrageous; every Mumbaikar who is happy and wants to celebrate may have done the same at some point. I thank my mother who handled the situation very well. Even our next-door neighbours and close relatives are not aware of my plight. Whenever they enquired about me she told them that I have gone to spend a few days with a friend. Also, when the cops came knocking on our door to inform my mother that I had been picked up in a pub, she reacted very calmly and made the policemen sit inside the house and gave them details.
But life has completely changed for me. I am in constant fear that someone will come to know about my scrape and I will lose face in society. I lost my father sometime ago and my mother has been the sole breadwinner for a while. This job means a lot to me as I thought it would help me support her. I had joined only four days before my detention and was really happy. So, I thought why not celebrate the occasion. But, just a few hours of celebration brought a long nightmare for my mother and me. On that day, we had first gone to Juhu with a friend who stays close to my house. From there, we went to Madness and were eventually caught in the raid. Soon after my release, I resumed work. But it was difficult for me to face my boss who used to constantly inquire about my sudden disappearance for a month. I also fear facing my friends who keeps probing me. I have no answers for them.
Resident of Vakola; Jyoti had accompanied Veena to Madness
Since my release, things have been very hard. I am married and have a three-year-old son. Now my in-laws reject me. My husband was very supportive till the time I was released, but now he too ignores me. There are so many fights in the family. I am separated and am living with my mother. Things seem to be headed towards a divorce and I don’t want that to happen. I am uncertain about my future.”
Resident of Ambernath; she had gone to Madness to attend a friend’s birthday party
Life has become hell. Everyone in my neighbourhood has come to know that I was detained as a prostitute. My father had died some years ago and I have been helping my family by doing several odd jobs. I had gone to Madness that night to attend a friend’s birthday party. I was in the pub since 7 pm and got arrested in the raid at 9.The word has spread like fire and now it has become difficult for us to live in this area. Hence, we have taken a decision to sell this place and shift to another house in Navi Mumbai, among new people. I have stayed here for ten years of my life and I am very disheartened to leave, but this is my only option. The neighbours have been constantly passing comments about my mother and me every time we step out. I also had to leave the place where I worked, as the behaviour of my boss and colleagues towards me had changed. Everyone has started treating us differently. I am fed up with the constant questions. Now, when I spot police personnel I am scared. I had contemplated committing suicide, but I will live for my mother and my little brother.
Goregaon resident and a college student; Suhasini had gone to the pub with friends that night
I was illegally detained in this raid. I had gone with a few friends to have fun. I am a college student. When I was spending time in rehab for no reason, my college exams were going on. I couldn’t take my exams, so the authorities failed me. Now, I have appeared in the KT exams for which I did not have enough time to study. I just hope that I pass and don’t lose a year. The cops made a mistake for which I’ll have to keep paying for a long time. My parents have stood by me in full support, so I don’t care about others taunting me. But I feel very bad about the whole episode. It shouldn’t have happened.
No method in Madness!
On April 29, the police raided a pub in Khar after receiving a tip-off about a flesh trade racket operational there, and detained 16 girls. However, families of many of the detainees say they are just college students or housewives from working class families who had only gone to the pub to have a good time. MiD DAY had reported the incident on May 9 (Height of Madness! College kids pushed into rehab centre for visiting pub).