In a recent order, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR), has recommended a ban on participation of children below 12 years in the formation of pyramids for Dahi Handi.
Law enforcement authorities have been asked to take appropriate steps to ensure that the ban is implemented in the true sense across the state.
The panel has received a petition from an activist who had highlighted the plight of children, as young as five, being used by mandals. Kids had to climb right to the top tier of the pyramids and very often, this is without safety gear.
Though some mandals have expressed disappointment at the decision, it is a welcome order. Such young children have no place on top of the human pyramid. Bones are especially fragile at that age. Then, you also have immaturity.
At that age, a child often does not know that there is a line which says: danger, don’t cross. Caught up in the moment, the emotion and egging on of onlookers, the child climbs higher and higher, determined to reach and break the handi.
Now that the order has been passed, it is important to ensure that it does not remain on paper but is implemented. Many mandals have started practicing for the Dahi Handi next month.
It is important that authorities nip it in the bud right now, monitoring the practice sessions so that young kids are not placed on top of the pyramid during practice.
They have to go around to mandals making them aware of the order and ensuring that they comply in a spirit of cooperation. The time to do that is now. During the festival, they may not have control, with crowds and so many mandals across the city.
It is also important that politicians who put their money into prizes during dahi handi stress this order and tell mandals that they will dissociate themselves if this is flouted.
Organisers and participants must show maturity and cooperate with an order which is only for the good of the participants. The order is in place, and now it must be followed.