Mumbai: Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble, 57, has been accused by his severest critics of trying to Taliban-ise Mumbai. Mr Dhoble, who heads the Mumbai Police's Social Service branch, faced his latest criticism on Twitter on Tuesday when he was a trending topic for recent raids on some of the city's landmark restaurants and pubs.
Usually armed, often with cameras, at least once with a hockey stick, Mr Dhoble arrives to enforce what many in the city believe are archaic laws. On Friday, he raided Cafe; Zoe for playing music without the required license for a DJ, and because it was over-crowded.
A day later, he raided the Shiro nightclub in Worli on Saturday, saying it was flouting rules.
He has said in his defence that he needs to protect young people who gather at hookah bars and pubs which are breaking the law. "I am doing my job," he said to NDTV, a week after two women sued the police for defamation because they were arrested for being prostitutes in a raid led by Mr Dhoble. "We aren't conducting raids ...we are just ensuring rules and regulation are implemented. We aren't curbing the night life . Let people enjoy ... we are just implementing the law," he said.
It's not just his mission but his style that has enraged the city. He often carries a camera during his raids to film people for relatively minor violations.
A Facebook page called 'Dhoble - Oppressor of the Innocent Public' has 20,000 members. Writer and commentator Pritish Nandy has described
him as 'Public Enemy No 1' on Twitter.
Mr Dhoble's track record in the police force has many blemishes, but a patina of political patronage has protected him.
He was suspended in 1989 for accepting a bribe in Pune. In 1994, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined a lakh for his role in a custodial death. He was dismissed from the force but reinstated in 1996, after his jail sentence was dismissed by the Mumbai High Court.
A departmental inquiry against him is still pending in this case - the Supreme Court had ordered this.
Before the Special Service branch, Mr Dhoble was posted with the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha security.