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Among those arrested for poaching and trying to sell the coveted skin of leopards are sons of a forest guard
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The Mumbai Connection

Following the twin blasts in Hyderabad, not surprisingly, the Mumbai police has been on high alert. Mumbai was also one of the cities that had received the intelligence alert, reports say. With the name of Indian Mujahidin’s Yasin Bhatkal emerging as the main suspect, Mumbai’s famed Anti-Terror Squad, currently led by Jt CP Rakesh Maria, who has been on his trail for a long time, is back in the news. However, with reports of so many sleeper cells, overlapping modus operandi of so many groups in so many cities such as Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and so on, for a Mumbaikar, it may be hard to track these investigations. Only if we could avoid having those bicycles and scooters exploding in crowded markets please! One wonders if the release of Ram Gopal Verma’s 26/11, a movie based on the night of 26th November 2008 when Mumbai was literally held hostage for 60 hours, is going to help the sombre mood of the so called spirited city.

Drought Relief

After state ministers agreed to part with their one month’s salary for drought relief, the police too have followed the line and decided to contribute the same. University of Mumbai too declared a monetary help of Rs 10 lakh to help the parched regions of Maharashtra. However, the administration is grappling with tough challenges with water storage at less than 15 per cent in Marathwada. (A thermal power plant too had to shut down in Beed). Be that as it may, there is no stopping the representatives of aam aadmi, flinging accusations and counter accusations. The latest one being Raj Thackeray training his guns on the Nationalist Congress Party and the Pawars. As it is their minister Bhaskar Jadhav, and so the party, is facing some serious criticism and IT probe for his daughter’s ultra-lavish wedding. After criticising Sharad Pawar, Thackeray blamed Pawar’s nephew Ajitdada, embroiled in the irrigation scam, for the terrible water storage situation and consequent drought. For once, he seems to even have the right target in mind.

A National Shame

In the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape case, the Mumbai police have now initiated special squads of women police officers to prevent crimes against women. The squads will not only patrol but also be stationed at police stations to address these issues and help victims. However, there is no let up in the crimes of sexual assault in the state. Less than 10 days after three minor girls were raped and killed in Bhandara district, another rape of a minor was reported from the same district. A school teacher has been arrested. Closer home, a 17 year old was allegedly drugged, raped and left in unconscious state on the highway on Wednesday. The police arrested a property broker and his colleague, who allegedly spiked her soft drink.

Who will Guard the Guards?

Soon after we reported on increasing sightings and attacks by leopards in suburbs, four people were arrested for poaching and trying to sell the coveted skin of the big cat. Unfortunately two of the arrested are sons of a forest guard, who works in the same park. This is perhaps an indicator of the challenges that lie before our forest department when it comes to involvement of locals for wildlife protection. Reports said the arrested may have killed four leopards in the past few months. Things aren't getting any easier for the magnificent shy animal as a scorching summer approaches and they will perhaps be forced out of their hideouts.

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

And last, but so not the least, while Shiv Sena gets busy with celebration of Marathi fortnight and celebration on February 27 to commemorate one of the greatest writer, VV Shirwadkar on his birth anniversary (yes, not Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, really)— they are apparently asking the state MPs to make their speeches in Marathi on Wednesday— what every Marathi and non-Marathi Mumbaikar is really looking forward to is the rail budget a day before that. And hoping that the over-stressed, over-burdened life line (that it is, considering metros and monorails are taking their own sweet time), the suburban rail network, gets good funds, increasing the possibility of better services sans the agonising mega blocks. Kyunki in Mumbai, meri jaan, it is Chalti Ka Naam Gadi.

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