Dahi handi rev­ellers risk life, limb and con­tempt of Supreme Court Me­hbooba storms out of press meet with Ra­j­nath

BRAZEN Pyra­mids ex­ceed 20ft, chil­dren as young as 8 participate in celebrations in Mum­bai, Thane

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Akash Sakaria ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com Toufiq Rashid let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Dahi handi rev­ellers in Mum­bai and Thane flouted the Supreme Court’s or­der in myr­iad ways while cel­e­brat­ing Jan­mash­tami on Thurs­day. At sev­eral places, govindas formed hu­man pyra­mids well over 20 feet high, chil­dren as young as eight par­tic­i­pated in their for­ma­tion, and rev­el­ers shunned ba­sic safety equip­ment such as har­nesses, hel­mets and cush­ioned mats.

Ahead of the fes­ti­val, the Supreme Court had said that hu­man pyra­mids for dahi handi must not ex­ceed 20 feet in height, chil­dren un­der 18 should not participate in their for­ma­tion, and man­dals must pro­cure safety gear for their govindas.

How­ever, the court’s or­der was flouted at sev­eral places, in­clud­ing Chem­bur, Dadar, Parel, Lal­baug and Nau­pada junc­tion in Thane.

The Ma­ha­rash­tra Navnir­man Sena (MNS) and the Shiv Sena led the way in flout­ing the court or­der.

In Thane, the po­lice filed a case against Av­inash Jad­hav of the MNS, who sported a t-shirt em­bla­zoned with the mes­sage ‘I will break the law” in Marathi. Jad­hav was charged with wil­fully dis­obey­ing an or­der by a pub­lic ser­vant – in this case the po­lice.

While the Thane po­lice took im­me­di­ate ac­tion against vi­o­la­tors, book­ing over 100 peo­ple from 16 man­dals for vi­o­lat­ing the court’s or­ders, the po­lice in Mum­bai took a more pas­sive ap­proach.

Apart from Chem­bur, where a case was regis­tered against seven man­dals, the po­lice sim­ply recorded videos, noted noise lev­els and is­sued no­tices to var­i­ous man­dals. More ac­tion, based on the videos and noise-level record­ings – is ex­pected in the next few days.

Shaji Umap, deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice, zone 6, said, “We are reg­is­ter­ing cases against seven man­dals at Chem­bur po­lice sta­tion for vi­o­lat­ing re­stric­tions on height of hu­man pyra­mids the age of govindas.”

Celebrations or­gan­ised by the MNS at Nau­pada junc­tion in Thane in­volved a dahi handi 49 feet above ground, where govindas formed a nine-tier pyra­mid over 40 feet high. This pyra­mid at Chem­bur has seven tiers, which is a lot taller than 20 ft, and the per­son right at the top looks a lot younger than 18.

Jammu and Kash­mir chief min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti walked out of a press con­fer­ence with Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh on Thurs­day even as the Cen­tre promised an al­ter­na­tive to pel­let guns that have left thou­sands of peo­ple with eye in­juries in the Val­ley.

Singh’s an­nounce­ment on a sub­sti­tute for pel­let gun soon and will­ing­ness for talks with “any­body” to end the wave of vi­o­lence in Kash­mir capped his two-day visit to the Val­ley where vi­o­lent protests af­ter the killing of a mil­i­tant com­man­der has left at least 68 peo­ple dead.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment’s out­reach was over­shad­owed by Me­hbooba leav­ing the joint press con­fer­ence in a huff af­ter Home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh and J&K CM Me­hbooba Mufti ad­dress a press meet in Srinagar.

re­porters re­peat­edly ques­tioned her han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion and com­pared her stand dur­ing a sim­i­lar vi­o­lent phase in 2010.

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