Two women constables, who were caught on camera assaulting a girl at Lalbaugcha Raja, have now been suspended. Nandini Goswami (20) was assaulted by the cops as she tried to enter the iconic pandal through the VIP gate. But the cops claim Goswami misbehaved and threatened them that she is a black belt in karate besides abusing them.
While the girl, may have been arrogant one, is not here to take sides, her parents were jeered at by pandal volunteers. The cops took Goswami to the police station and allegedly beat her with a lathi. According to the girl, when they tried to get in through the VIP gate, volunteers abused and pushed her mother.
A scribe for a Marathi daily, Poonam Apraj, alleged that she too was assaulted at Lalbaugcha Raja after she was denied entry through the VIP gate.
There is tremendous pressure during festive season and though there are two sides to the story, the cops must show a modicum of restraint and maturity. They could have taken the offenders, if they were abusing them, to the police station and dealt with them through fines.
It is shocking that the pandal volunteers got involved in the fracas and added fuel to the fire by jeering at Goswami’s parents. As volunteers, they should have done their best to defuse the situationa by curbing tempers. Instead, they are using their power to intimidate devotees.
When an altercation like this breaks out, volunteers need to quickly see the warning signs: given the numbers of people at the Lalbaugcha Raja pandal, one little scuffle or fight can turn into a possible roit. They must quicly move in to try and cool things down or at least ensure that things do not spiral out of control. Once mayhem begins, we are on the verge of a huge tragedy.
One needs perspective, patience and a balance from police and pandal volunteers, who are also present to ensure that devotees have a safe darshan. These accounts may seem small but in such a charged atmosphere, it only takes a spark to start an all-consuming fire.