The unprecedented upsurge in the number of burglaries and assaults on senior citizens taking place in Udvada last year spread an aura of terror amongst its inhabitants, with nearly four to five
robberies and house break-ins being reported in a month. Though one of the smallest villages in India, to the Zarthosti community, Udvada is one of the biggest and most sanctified pilgrimage destinations globally, with the presence of our hallowed Iranshah Atash Behram, at the heart of the village.
These episodes of notoriety were not just the grievance of the inhabitants, of which Parsi/Irani Zoroastrians comprised merely ninety-five in number. This larceny had also become the bane of a number of Zarthostis who didn’t live in Udvada, but owned apartments/bungalows, out of religious sentiment. A non-functional, dilapidated and abandoned structure in the form of a Police Outpost served no purpose. As a result, for any emergency situations or complaints, one had to approach the Pardi Police Station, a good 35-40 minutes away. So by the time the complaint was lodged and the Police got on their feet to nab the criminal, it was already too late.
In order to control and put an end to the deteriorating crime situation in Udvada, a number of Zarthostis got together and have
succeeded in rebuilding a Police Outpost in Udvada. Speaking to Parsi Times, Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor who has been fore-fronting this effort, said, “Efforts to bring in law and order in our town have been in the planning phase since the IUU Project (December 2015), when a strong need and demand for a police station was expressed, due to the rampant robberies. We had made an appeal to the Collector even before December and the Gujarat Finance Minister, Shri Saurab Bhai Patel promised to support the restoration of the police station. We’ve managed to resurrect the structure, but other utilities like water and electricity are yet to be commissioned. We plan to put up CCTVs across the village and provide the police with greater control so that safety is not compromised ever again.”
Shahin Jamshed Mehershahi, Manager of NM Wadia Parsi Dharamshala (near the station), has also been an active participant in the revival of the Police Outpost in Udvada which is located at Gymkhana Road, Opp. Zoroastrian Museum in Udwada Gaam. “I’ve been volunteering on the project directly with the Pardi and Valsad Police who have been very cooperative. We also got a lot of support from the Udvada Gram Panchayat and the Ex-Sarpanch, Dharmendra alias Rajubhai Patel and his staff; as also PSI Bhupinder Singh Sarvaya of Pardi police station. Together they surveyed the place based on the old drawings that the City Surveyor retrieved. In December 2015, the government started serious procedures on this structure and it is currently near completion. With the blessings of Pak Iran Shah, we hope it will be fully functional within two months,” said Shahin to Parsi Times.
More interestingly, in order to provide safety to the village till the Police Outpost gets functional, volunteers have joined hands in a movement called ‘Friends of Police’. Under this ‘police-mitra’ Government initiative, which was hitherto dormant, a group of young male volunteers maintain vigilance at night and help tip off the police if they notice any unusual activity. The number of robberies has already dropped, thanks to this effort. PSI Bhupendra Singh has also intensified Police patrolling day and night in Udvada and has taken a keen interest in its safety.
Jamshed Bhivandiwala, Appointed Architect for Udvada, Dept. of Tourism, Government of Gujarat, told Parsi Times, “The police station is primarily the result of the efforts put in by our Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor and the Collector of Valsad, Ravikumar Arora, who initiated the SP of Valsad to set up a police chowki, and they did so through the Tourism Project. Initially the police station was planned closer to the Atash Behram but due to opposition from the locals, it has now been built near the Zoroastrian museum.”
Maneck Spencer (74), resident of Premier Apartments in Udvada, said, “We have been waiting a long time for a police station to be instituted. Earlier when the robberies took place, we had to go all the way to ‘Zanda Chowk’ to file a report. Most of us here are senior citizens and finally, we are feeling secure. These days, we even see the police frequently patrolling the surrounding areas”.
“This is the first step towards a crime-free Udvada town in Gujarat, which we hope would soon also become a Corruption-Free town. The credit goes to the whole village – it’s basically been teamwork. People always come together naturally for a good cause – all you need to do is take the first step. If every citizen carries out his duty towards his nation responsibly, then India would look brighter, which is what every India-loving citizen hopes for,” says a happy Shahin Mehershahi, echoing the sentiments of the Community!
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