Every time I have a Delhi vs Mumbai debate, my match winning point is SAFETY. Since years, as a Mumbaikar I have taken great pride in the fact that 'The Maximum' City is one of the safest in the country.But a recent spate of incidences have drooped my shoulders a bit " Go out at 3 am in Mumbai and you will still reach home safe" does not sound as convincing any more.
The gang rape of an 18 year old girl and the shooting of a journalist in broad day light are crimes that made to the news papers, but there are some that never get reported. Like the incident that happened with a group of youngsters in the wee hours of the morning of 24th June. At around 12:45 am Friday June 24th, a group of five aged between 20 -22 (2 girls and 3 boys) were driving on the Andheri Link road en route Bandra when they were sharply overtaken by a Skoda. A potential accident was averted and as a reflex one of the boys showed his middle finger to the man behind the wheels of the other car. Suddenly the Skoda took a sharp turn and came to a halt right in front of the young group's car, the driver got out and asked the boys to step out of their car. Upon getting out, the boy who showed the middle finger was caught by the collar with a revolver pointing at him and told "Do you know who I am? Do you see this? Now show me that finger again!" After being abused and forced to apologize repeatedly at gun point, the boys were finally asked to leave. Too shaken to even inform the police, the boys just rushed home only to endure a sleepless night!
This incident gets me to question this' so called' sense of safety we believe in. Is it for real or is it just a mirage? The car's number plate was in Marathi and it proudly displayed a saffron flag, clearly indicating that it belonged to the Government/Shiv Sena/MNS or another Hindu fundamentalist outfit which gets me to my second question : If a government/political party's car carries goons, then should we not be ashamed of calling ourselves a 'safe city?'. The state of law and order in Bihar was labelled as ' Jungle Raj' because of similar reasons, people would roam on the streets with revolvers in their pockets and shoot at whim. Is that where Mumbai is heading? Not far is the day when Pakistan might turn back and say : Our 10 men did, what your own citizens do on a regular basis!
Mumbaikars are lauded for their resilience, but incidences like these make me wish we didn't have such good shock absorbers. This stray incident came to my notice, there might be many like these going completely unnoticed. Is this city of dreams really a place where you can dream fearlessly or is Mumbai becoming Delhi? It's time the Maharashtra government pulled up its socks and paid attention to more important things than playing snakes and ladders with the legal drinking age as Mumbai needs to save its reputation, and I as a proud Mumbaikar never want to loose the Mumbai vs another Indian city debate....EVER!!