Mumbai, Jun 2: After his temple was demolished by the BMC six days ago, Anthony Mohan (60), said he would go to Shirdi to draw inspiration from Sai Baba about the future course of action.
Anthony Mani R Mohan (60) once held reign from Dhobi Talao to Colaba, by sheer muscle power. The man was a bhai, but the terrible days of murder and mayhem ended suddenly one day with a visit to the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi.
Said Anthony, “My Maharashtrian friends took me to Shirdi on a casual visit, but something happened to me there, which I cannot describe in words. All I can say, is I changed and realised that whatever I was doing was wrong. I was tired of all the violence!”
So, he gave it all up, moved to the streets and set up a small Sai Baba temple in Dhobi Talao.
The temple has since been demolished seven times, but the man diligently rebuilds it. The BMC has now demolished the temple six days ago. On Tuesday, Anthony left for Shirdi to draw inspiration from Sai Baba to decide on his future course of action.
He was dreaded
Said Baliya Gaikwad (43), a Congress leader from the area, “In the seventies, Anthony was the king of Dhobi Talao and his fiefdom spread till Colaba. During elections, politicians depended on his influence in the area, to win. His name instilled fear.”
Anthony dada, as he is called now, was born a Christian, but always organized Ganesh Chaturthi. “One word from him, and donations used to pour in,” said a source.
“If the BMC would have come about 30 years ago they would have to bring a truckload of policemen with them. Anthony was fearless and he could break iron chains with his bare hands,” said Gaikwad.
“He was externed from the area during Ganesh Visarjans, but the idol would never be immersed, till he made a quiet appearance,” he added.
Demolished 7 times
Raman Rathod (52), a former accomplice of Anthony, added, “People urinated in the area, but he quietly cleaned up the place.”
An angry Deepak Oza (46), who runs his tailoring shop in the area said, “If this is how a former goon who has turned religious and mended his ways is treated, then you will not find many men turning over a new leaf. He was not just a dada, but a man of honour and well respected. He helped needy people.”
Added Raman, “He cooks and distributes khichdi every day to about 100 people who eat near his temple, even after the structure was demolished.”
BMC assistant commissioner C ward ( Dhobi Talao) S S Dalvi said he was not aware of the Anthony’s past, when the temple was demolished. “We are sad to learn that we have demolished his temple. However, the duty calls and we have to keep emotions at bay.”