Devotees trooping to the Bandra Fair today will finally be able to use the cement road next to Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow Mannat. On Saturday morning, a protest march was held by the pilgrims after which the barricades on the road were removed and people could start using the cement road again.
On Friday, MiD DAY had carried a front-page article about how cops had barricaded the cement road next to the actor’s bungalow, thereby inconveniencing the pilgrims at the Bandra Fair. Bandra cops had claimed that too many pilgrims using the cement road could cause a stampede-like situation.
On the same day, a group of organisations met Additional commissioner of police (west region) Vishwas Nangre Patil regarding their grievances. The senior cop promised them that they would allow senior citizens, handicapped and ailing patients, accompanied by one family member on the road. Later, however, the barricades were removed and everyone was allowed to use the cement road.
On Saturday, several organisations such as Watchdog Foundation, Wake Up Bandra, CROSS, Mobai Gaothan Panchayat, Perry Cross Road Association, Save Our Land committee and hundreds of devotees staged a protest on the cement road. Dolphy D’Souza of Save Our Land committee said, “The relentless campaign and support by MiD DAY helped us this victory.” Echoing this sentiment, Johan Fernandes of CROSS added, “Prayers and slogans were chanted. We went straight upto the church from the cement road. After a small speech and prayer, we again came back from the cement road itself.”
Judith Monteiro of Association of Concerned Catholics said, “We will see to it that next year the road is fully opened and used by pilgrims.” Some of them added that they plan to meet the cops so that they don’t have to face the same problem next year.
A spokesperson for Khan, who found himself in the middle of the controversy, said that the actor has been a resident of the area for many years and respects the location. “With due respect to the people and the authorities, the decision of barricading is not something Mr Khan is involved in. It is a decision taken by the authorities. In the past, the security and staff of Mannat used to take care of the people who used the road,” the spokesperson said.