On Krishna Janmashtami, Mumbai cops face challenges implementing Dahi Handi restrictions

There are worries from concerned corners that the police might be even vulnerable to contempt of court if some pyramids actually cross 20 feet if the police fails to maintain a constant vigil on all of them.

Sanjay Sawant August 25, 2016 08:27:43 IST
On Krishna Janmashtami, Mumbai cops face challenges implementing Dahi Handi restrictions

Mumbai: Ahead of the Dahi Handi festival to mark Krishna Janmashtami on Thursday, Mumbai Police and their Thane counterpart are in for some tough time as the Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that no human pyramid could cross 20 feet in height in the entire state of Maharashtra.

On Krishna Janmashtami Mumbai cops face challenges implementing Dahi Handi restrictions

Human pyramid during Dahi Handi festival. AFP

The fresh plea was filed in the apex court by the Jai Jawan Krida Mandal Govinda Pathak in a last ditch attempt to get over the restriction. The organisation argued that now that the youth below 18 years of age have been barred from participating in the Dahi Handi ritual, the cap on the height of the human pyramid should be relaxed as adventure is part of every sport. The Supreme Court was however unconvinced by the argument.

With over 3,000 mandals organising their own Dahi Handi competitions across Mumbai and its satellite city of Thane, implementing the Supreme Court order would not be easy for the cops. Although the police have started issuing notices to organisers informing them of the apex court order and even plans to video record every human pyramid that forms, it would be quite an uphill task to have their presence in every nook and corner.

There are worries from concerned corners that the police might be even vulnerable to contempt of court if some pyramids actually cross 20 feet if the police fails to maintain a constant vigil on all of them. With the police bound under the apex court order, there is a possibility that using force to restrict pyramids to 20 feet wherever necessary might escalate into a law and order situation as well.

"There is lot of pressure on us," a senior police official told Firstpost on the condition of anonymity.

Declining the plea by a Dahi Handi trust seeking modification of a 17 August order, a bench of Justice Anil R Dave, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice L Nageswara Rao said that "in the last hearing we have asked the state how it was going to regulate the the large number of Dahi Handi events in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra".

The Supreme Court had earlier refused to relax conditions put by the Bombay High Court like barring youths below 18 years of age from participating in the Dahi Handi ritual of the Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra and capping the height of the human pyramid at 20 feet.

Fearing trouble the Mumbai Police have already issued notice to Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) asking the party cadres to honour the court order. A notice under section 149 of the CrPC was issued on Wednesday to Munaf Thakur of the MNS warning him of stern action if he violates the court order.

"Last year, a case was registered against him under IPC section 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others) and section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). We issued the notice to him since he was the organiser of the programme," Deputy Commissioner of Police Paramjit Dahiya told The Times of India.

While all parties seem upset, the MNS has been vocal about the restrictions. The MNS president even took on the Supreme Court for the curbs and asked party workers to celebrate the festival as they have been celebrating it for all these years.

Despite the challenges, the state administration is gearing up to implement the apex court order.

"We respect the Supreme Court order and our force will maintain law and order. We cannot allow to anyone to take law in their hands. Dahi Handi mandals will have to celebrate the utsav as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court," said Maharashtra, additional chief secretary (Home), KP Bakshi.

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