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Dahi Handi rule violations: Mumbai police begin probe against organisers

Mumbai and Thane police received several calls from Govinda ‘pathak’ members requesting the police not to arrest them from their homes as it would bring ‘disgrace’ to their family members.

Written by Vallabh Ozarkar | Mumbai |
August 28, 2016 1:10:27 am

A DAY after the Mumbai police booked 21 Dahi Handi groups for violation of Supreme Court (SC) guidelines, police commenced their probe mainly against the organisers. Sources indicate that while the police might act against the mandals, action against the minors who participated in festivities would be taken up, if at all, during the second leg of investigations.

“Right now, our probe concentrates on organisers who flouted SC rules and we have already booked them. They will be questioned during the probe, whether or not to arrest them will be decided subsequently,” a senior official told The Indian Express. “The organisers will be grilled if they lured the minor to participate in forming the human pyramids, against the order of the apex court. Action against the minors, if any, will be taken only if there is evidence to suggest they participated on their own,” added the official.

Meanwhile, Mumbai and Thane police received several calls from Govinda ‘pathak’ members requesting the police not to arrest them from their homes as it would bring ‘disgrace’ to their family members. They assured police they would present themselves before investigators whenever needed.

In its order on August 17, the apex court had barred those below 18 years of age from participating in the human pyramids during Janmashtami festival. It also capped the height of the pyramid at 20 feet.

Of the 21 cases registered by Mumbai police, police have invoked Section 336 of the Indian Penal Code (for act endangering life or personal safety of others) in 15 cases. In 20 cases, Section 188 of the IPC, for disobeying order duly promulgated by public servant, have been slapped. In one case, Section 341 of the IPC for wrongful restraint has been invoked against Shiv Sena party workers from Sion-Koliwada area in Central Mumbai. All 21 cases are bailable in nature.

However, in its satellite township in Thane, police invoked Section 308 for attempt to commit culpable homicide, which is also bailable, against two organisers, including MNS senior leader Avinash Jadhav who was the organiser of the Dahi Handi in Bhagwati ground, Naupada, and against the organisers of Shivtej Mitra Mandal of Vitthalwadi area in Thane. In both cases, other than the organisers, the groups which participated in festivities and violated the SC rule by either using a minor in the human pyramid, or exceeding the 20 feet height, have been booked.

Thane police spokesperson Sukhada Narkar said, “The Naupada police have registered an FIR against the organiser of MNS Thane and 16 Govinda mandals for violating Supreme Court guidelines.” An officer said the ‘Jai Jawaan’ pandal in Thane at one point had a nine-tier pyramid that stood over 40 feet, twice the 20 feet limit set by the court.

Abhijeet Panse, senior MNS leader from Thane said, “As a mark of solidarity and our party’s support to Govinda mandals, Raj Thackeray will visit our unit and meet those who have organised and participated in the festivities.” Incidentally, those who Thackeray is scheduled to meet on Sunday have been booked by Thane police for defying the court order.

Meanwhile, according to the disaster management control unit of BMC, during Janmashtami, at least 162 Govindas were injured and taken to government hospitals. Of this, 114 were discharged after treatment and 48 were complaints pertaining to minor bruises, which were attended to and the patients were allowed to go after first aid. Most of those injured are minors.

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Prati Koriya, a 15-year-old recuperating at Sion hospital, has underwent femur surgery in his left leg. He was part of the second tier of human pyramid when his foot slipped, in Dharavi’s Kumbharwada area where he participates every year.

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