I have finally understood what the “Spirit of Mumbai” is. It is the guardian angel of the corrupt, the callous, the criminal. When organised crimes of bureaucrats and politicians lead to losses and deaths in Mumbai, the much abused term of “Spirit of Mumbai” soars and shields these perpetrators.
Like most devastating and destructive things in Maharashtra, the “Spirit of Mumbai” too was born under the indulgence of Shri Sharad Pawar. The “Spirit of Mumbai” was summoned to save the perpetrators of the 1993 bomb blasts when Sharad Pawar insisted the city continue to work despite the crippling, havoc-wreaking blasts.
The consequence was that most of the perpetrators escaped under the chaos of a city limping its way back to work. Had the city been locked down under curfew, and a house to house search conducted, we may have had some justice, some closure to the epic tragedy that took more than 250 lives. But no, what we got introduced to instead was the “Spirit of Mumbai”.
The “Spirit of Mumbai” shielded the mediapersons, who televised the terror attacks that took 167 lives and assisted the terrorists by supplying live information to their handlers. The “Spirit of Mumbai” is the guardian angel of all such terrorists, their supporters and of criminals who sit in government offices – it routinely extends its largesse to Indian Railways and forgives them for taking 10 lives daily – yes 10 PEOPLE DIE EVERYDAY in Mumbai locals, 3600 every year. You remember how it stoically guarded the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who did not even suspend a clerk for the loss of 22 lives in the Elphinstone tragedy?
The “Spirit of Mumbai” is kept most busy protecting the Commissioner of the City Municipal Corporation. It has saved his job more than 5 times this year alone, despite more than 100 Mumbaikers dying under his watch in 2017, directly due to his acts of commission of omission.
Why the Commissioner and not the Shiv Sena you ask? Because it is high time we rip apart the facade that either the Mayor or councilors have any power in Mumbai – elected representatives have zero power. The BMC is controlled and run by IAS officers, who work at the pleasure of the Chief Minister. These IAS officers have an army of extortion agents, the lower bureaucrats, who are rewarded with complete impunity, because every time the BMC fails to deliver, the media raises the bogey of Shiv Sena.
The Shiv Sena does not rule Mumbai. It never has. It likes to perpetrate this myth as it makes this toothless tiger seem strong and this phantom strength gives muscle to its extortion empire.
The only job of the elected representatives in the BMC is to collect bribes to pass proposals of builders. They have NO SAY in the administration of the city at all. The city is run by the Municipal Commissioner, who runs an organised racket of bribes and extortion. And the “Spirit of Mumbai” is his guardian angel.
The “Spirit of Mumbai” also came to the rescue of BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and his boss, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, during the monsoon floods. No one blamed the Commissioner for over a dozen deaths, for missing four deadlines that he himself set for clearing the drains and getting Mumbai rain-ready.
It rescued him from the building collapse in Ghatkopar that killed 12 people – BMC had turned a blind, albeit lucrative, eye to illegal, unsafe renovations. And again in September when a rampantly illegal building collapsed in Bhendi Bazaar killing 36 people. It saved the BMC Commissioner from going to jail for the death of another 12 persons in the Sakinaka fire.
Now the “Spirit of Mumbai” will rise shield him and all the criminals behind the Kamala Mills fire that killed 14 people. The cause of the fire is obvious – BMC officials gave NOCs to fire traps and took bribes to look the other way while hoteliers and offices made dangerous structural changes. But,
Not one single BMC official will go to jail.
The Kamala Mills owners will remain untouched.
The Times Group with all its offices there, as well as other media enterprises, will not be asked why they did not raise their voice against the illegalities in their own neighbourhood.
The IAS officer, who is the Deputy Commissioner of that zone will attend glittering New Year parties without even a wrinkle on his or her coiffured self.
The Municipal Commissioner himself, will conduct an inquiry on his own self, and on his own direct reports and his own department, and will give all a clean chit.
The restaurant owner will be fined, and the issue forgotten.
None of the other structures will be made fire compliant.
The CM will not even be touched remotely, though he is the only elected representative directly responsible for this tragedy.
All this will be accomplished by the “Spirit of Mumbai.” Because this Angel of Death knows how to ensure that the Mumbaikers don’t ever protest their lot, never question, never raise their voice against illegalities, even if it takes away their lives.
They suffer countless man-made tragedies, content to be offered a cup of tea or a lift by a stranger during a crisis, because they are all under the spell of the “Spirit of Mumbai”. After every loss of life, hypnotised Mumbaikers will stop during the rush hour and light a candle to mourn the loss of those who perished, but will never ever ask for justice. And the “Spirit of Mumbai” will live on, from one numbing tragedy to another.
(The author is a spokesperson for Aam Aadmi Party. Views expressed here are her own and Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t endorse them)