Maximum city, minimum tolerance
Freedom of speech came under close scrutiny after Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan were arrested for questioning on Facebook the city shutdown on November 18 following the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. Police said the arrests were to stop Sainiks from going on a rampage, but could not prevent a mob ransacking the clinic of Shaheen's doctor-uncle Abdul Dhada. A departmental inquiry and suspension of two cops failed to appease civil society, which pointed to police excess and misuse of section 66(A) of Information Technology Act. A shamefaced police department eventually withdrew charges against the girls.
'The Economist' called him 'Inspector killjoy' and FB trends poked him as the most-hated Mumbai cop as a hockey stick-wielding Vasant Dhoble (57) of the special branch went about closing down bars, pubs and clubs. The face of 'moral policing' received state government backing as he took the city back to 1949 when laws such as Bombay Prohibition Act, according to which every drinker in Mumbai needs a government permit, were framed.
TMC and Mandira Bedi
As the city donned pink ribbons in October, World Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) denied permission to NGO Women's Cancer Initiative (WCI) to put up 'inappropriate' posters showing a fully clothed Mandira Bedi holding up a brassiere alongside messages such as "choose breast cancer prevention" and "Google can't find your breast cancer. You can". Ironically, it was a woman from the pollution control department of TMC who denied the permission. Municipal commissioner R A Rajeev backed his official saying, "The middle-class population of Thane is unlike that of Mumbai city. We, as the corporation, have a responsibility to ensure public is not made uncomfortable because of such ads."
The dargah issue
The syncretic nature of Sufi Islam, showcased at Mumbai's iconic Haji Ali Dargah, came under threat after its trustees decided to ban women from entering the sanctum sanctorum. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan brought the issue to fore, along with the fact that seven other dargahs had decided to follow suit.