While the rest of the city is revelling in the festive spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi, Mumbai police is bearing the brunt of unruly behaviour, unprovoked altercations and in some cases, outright violence.
In the last two days alone, at least four such instances have come to light, including the one at the city’s most famous mandal – Lalbaughcha Raja.
The most visited Ganesh pandal in the city witnessed intense drama on Tuesday afternoon when an altercation broke out between volunteers and police personnel when the former allowed a group to cut the queue.
While cops were managing the mukhdarshan queue, which allows darshan from a distance, the volunteers were taking care of the navas queue, where devotees can come close to the Ganesh idol.
When a group tried to cut the line, they were stopped by police officials. Some volunteers, who knew the group, confronted the cops and asked them to let the group pass through.
The cops, however, refused to break protocol, following which a verbal spat broke out. The outburst led to manhandling and was on the cusp of turning physical when other officials and volunteers rushed to the spot and diffused the situation.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Abhinash Kumar and Lalbaugcha Raja trustee were among those caught in midst of the episode, which was caught on CCTV and by television news channels.
Although no case has been registered in the matter, an inquiry into the incident is underway.
Meanwhile, after videos of the incident started circulating on TV and social media, several devotees who visit the pandal every year came out in support of police officials.
“I visit the pandal every year and I can vouch for the unruly behaviour of the volunteers. In my experience, several volunteers try to overstep their duties and take advantage of their position to give a free pass to their acquaintances. Cops, on the other hand, are always more courteous and ensure things go smoothly,” Parel-resident Vinayak K told Local Press Co.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Kushal Shah, who recounted last year’s incident wherein volunteers had tried to manhandle him.
“When I saw someone cutting the line, I raised an objection. But volunteers tried to dismiss it. When I pressed on, some of them approached me threateningly. Fortunately, other devotees who were standing in the queue with me came to my rescue and prevented the situation from escalating,” Shah said.
Other Major Cases:
ACP Vinay Kulkarni (Crime Branch) was directing vehicles during bandobast duty at J.P. Road, Versova on Monday night when a drunk man refused to follow instructions.
When the accused, Amarendra Bhosle (29), started abusing the cops, he was escorted to the police van. His friend, who was accompanying him at the time, entered the van and shoved the ACP in a bid to rescue Amarendra.
While the rescue attempt was in vain, the friend managed to flee and is currently absconding. The Yari-road resident, however, was caught and booked. Amarendra is a cinematographer and son son of Bollywood actor Nagesh Bhosle.
Two men allegedly beat up a few police personnel and a tempo driver during idol visarjan in Dombivali on Monday.
The police had received complaints about the accused thrashing and manhandling devotees from people who had visited the immersion point.
When cops reached the spot, they saw the accused beating the tempo driver and tried to intervene. But the accused beat two officers and two constables, before fleeing the spot. A search for the accused is underway.
A faction of the procession from Great Indira Nagar in Andheri’s Lelewadi was pulled up by cops for unruly behaviour around 10 pm on Monday.
However, the mob assaulted police inspector Raghunath Kadam and several other officials. They also manhandled senior inspector Lata Shirsat.
Sahar police subsequently filed an FIR under section 353 and 332 against 15 people, but have not made any arrests till now.
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