In the past few weeks, the residents of Raheja Vihar and residents of the adjoining Tungwa Village (TV) have been engaged in a battle of wits for using a playground.
Playground at Raheja Vihar
The bone of contention is a playground that is supposed to be maintained by BMC. The playground is geographically located inside Raheja Vihar (RV) opposite an apartment complex called Lakeside. The ground has a walking area and also some equipment for exercises. On any morning, you will see a number of walkers, joggers who are residents of RV. You will also see a few children doing their stretches and exercises prior to their football game.
Earlier the access to Raheja Vihar was restricted to one point, the entry was opposite Chandivali Studio. However, this was also a pain for Raheja Vihar residents as the road near studio sees very high traffic movement. After repeated follow ups with BMC, the corporator and other authorities another entry-exit point was opened for RV which started from the Saki Vihar road. BMC also opened a walking path from Tungwa Village to RV during this time. The walking path opened near the Bombay Scottish School in RV.
New Entry-Exit Points leads to Issues for Raheja Vihar
The celebrations for the new entry-exit points soon became a horror story for the residents. The residents saw the complex teeming with anti-social elements who consume alcohol, drugs and dirty the complex with leftovers of their intoxication. They also eve teased women and got into fights with passers-by. Numerous complaints to the local and police and higher authorities went unheeded.
Raheja Vihar Reacts
So earlier in January, Raheja Vihar residents took the matter in their own hands. All the societies in RV came together and appointed a security team to close the gates to the ground at 10pm daily. Also, the societies contributed to adding adequate lighting in the park so that there were no dark corners. Moreover, the residents undertook a peace march on 20 January 2019 in the park which started at 7am. So, on a Sunday, there were over 70 people at 7am in the park with the single objective of disallowing TV dwellers to squat in the park.
The Stand off Raheja Vihar vs. Tungwa Village
As expected, this led to a standoff with TV dwellers. They turned in larger numbers and forced their way into the ground. Soon it became a boiling pot of opinions, accusations and counter arguments. The police were called in to sooth tempers. Complaints were filed by both parties against each other.
The entire week of 12 January was filled with incidents of standoff by both parties.
Politicians Step In
Since Tungwa Village has a number of lower economic population, this became a class war and obviously the politicians did not waste any time in jumping to the battle. The politicians got their own people to the battle and used their influence to threaten RV residents.
Not backing off from the fight, RV residents turned up in large numbers on Republic Day to celebrate in the ground with track sports and a mini mela of food and other articles to be sold in the complex.
Saner heads prevailed on 27 January 2019 and a meeting was arranged between representatives of both the parties. Both parties decided to speak their concerns to each other. Tungwa Village representatives have committed to curb the entry of anti-social elements from their area inside RV. In return, Raheja Vihar residents agreed to let Tungwa Village dwellers to use the park from 6am to 10pm daily for park activities like walking, jogging and exercising.
Temporary Peace seems to have been brokered for now! How long will it last? Watch this space for more!
Additional anecdotes to the past few days
- BMC officials, who have never bothered to solve the problem earlier, came to the park at the behest of the politicians. Earlier complaints to BMC on the quality and upkeep of the park, the bad roads at the entry to RV never elicited any action from them. Interestingly, a senior BMC official, who refused to go on record, has accused the RV residents of indulging in a class war. According to him, RV residents are denying access to the park as they don’t want the lower economic class from Tungwa to use the park facilities.
- Police officials who came to the park on successive days in the week of 21 January were also siding with the political masters. While they promised to increase patrolling in the complex, it is yet to be seen. Moreover, a police officer from the local police station has accused the children in RV for using drugs and alcohol. He claims to have received information from the RV security guards. On being queried for not catching the drug users, he said that the druggies run away on seeing a patrol vehicle. On further probing for the timing of the patrol vehicle, he refused to elaborate and tersely ticked off the questioners for asking him questions on his duty.
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Will the politicians’ step in and as always blow this episode into a larger problem? It is an election year and this could be just the “muddha” needed by them. Is RV fighting a losing battle?