Only 42 or­gan­is­ers this year as court clamps new rules

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI - Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­

Be­cause of the new rules and re­stric­tions im­posed by the Bom­bay high court and up­held by the Supreme Court, the num­ber of dahi handi events or­gan­ised in zone 1 of Navi Mum­bai po­lice com­mis­sion­errate has de­creased by 55%.

The area, be­tween Digha and Be­la­pur, saw only 42 dahi handi or­gan­is­ers this year com­pared to the 94 last year. The num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in each man­dal too has dropped dras­ti­cally, claimed sources.

The Supreme Court, had last week, up­held the Bom­bay high court’s ver­dict of ban­ning youth be­low the age of 18 to participate in the hu­man pyra­mid and restrict­ing its height to 20 feet.

“We served no­tices to all the man­dals that had sought per­mis­sion from us to or­gan­ise the fes­ti­val. They were asked to fol­low the guide­lines of the Supreme Court and were told that puni­tive mea­sures would be taken in case they vi­o­late the rules. This dis­cour­aged sev­eral or­gan­is­ers and they can­celled their events,” said Prashant Khaire, deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice (zone 1).

Ac­cord­ing to Khaire, most of the or­gan­is­ers who can­celled their celebrations are from the ar­eas like Vashi, Nerul and AMPC. “Af­ter all the can­cel­la­tions only three man­dals in Vashi, seven each in Nerul and APMC held the dahi handi celebrations,” he said.

The new rules, how­ever, have not been able to play spoil­sport in city zone II. Peo­ple cel­e­brated the fes­ti­val with much en­thu­si­asm in ar­eas like Pan­vel, Uran, Kalam­boli, Khan­desh­war, and New Pan­vel.

There were 180 or­gan­is­ers in zone II this year, which was al­most the same as in 2015.

Com­ment­ing on this, the deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice (zone II) Vish­wash Pand­hare, said, “Ours is a semi-ru­ral area and at least one dahi handi is or­gan­ised in every vil­lage. With 64 or­gan­is­ers, the ju­ris­dic­tion of Pan­vel taluka po­lice sta­tions ap­peared to be the most hap­pen­ing place on Thurs­day. We spoke to all of them be­fore­hand and asked to cel­e­brate the fes­ti­val with­out vi­o­lat­ing any norms.”

Cor­po­ra­tor from Nerul Ravin­dra Ithape said, “We have been cel­e­brat­ing the fes­ti­val for the past 15 years and it was one of big­gest dahi handis in Navi Mum­bai. But with the new rules it has be­come ex­tremely risky to or­gan­ise the events. Govindas come from dif­fer­ent places of Mum­bai, Navi Mum­bai and Raigad district. The height of the hu­man pyra­mid can be re­stricted but since the govindas come in hun­dreds from all over the state, how will we mon­i­tor their age?

We did not want to take the risk and so we called off the celebrations this year.”

Sev­eral other man­dals who cel­e­brated the fes­ti­val this year said that might not or­gan­ise it next year. “Peo­ple have lost in­ter­est in the fes­ti­val be­cause of the re­stric­tions. The size of the too has re­duced to a great ex­tent this year. With such lack of en­thu­si­asm, we may not or­gan­ise the fes­ti­val next year,” said San­tosh Shetty, a cor­po­ra­tor from New Pan­vel.

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