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Dahi handi mandals in Mumbai defy court order, hoist kids up pyramid

Despite the ruling by Bombay High Court, on Monday, mid-day found many young children participating in the Dahi Handi pyramid, with no organiser stepping up to stop them

Even after the Dahi Handi Utsav Samanvay Samiti (DUSS) assured that they would inform mandals about prohibiting children under 12 years of age from participating in the human pyramid, on Monday, many organisers turned a blind eye during the event.

Also read: Mumbai: 17 injured during 'Dahi Handi' festival

mid-day found many young children participating in the event and when we checked with the organisers, they simply said that they have been making regular announcements to stop the act.

Little lives at risk: Kids below 12 years of age were not stopped from participating in the human pyramid on Monday. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar
Little lives at risk: Kids below 12 years of age were not stopped from participating in the human pyramid on Monday. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar

Compared to last year, when many mandals created nine to 10 tiers of the pyramid, very few mandals attempted it this year. DUSS claimed they would not take any cash prizes and would take extra precautions to ensure the safety of participants (govindas) and ask pyramid organisers not to engage small children.

Also read: 'Low'-spirited Dahi Handi this year owing to new rules

However, most large-scale organisers were too busy with the event to notice the children climbing up the pyramid.

Till 3 pm, the Sankalp Pratishthan Handi, organised by NCP leader Sachin Ahir, hadn’t bothered to ask the children’s age. By then, around 250 mandals had already performed, most of them with kids. The children were not stopped by either the organisers or the cops. When asked, organisers said that they would check the video footage, and if any mandal was found breaking rules, strict action would be taken against them.

'Action will be taken later'
When this reporter asked organisers why they were not taking any preventive measures, they claimed that they have been making regular announcements not to include kids in the pyramid.

“We have been announcing regularly, but if there still are any mandals performing with underage children, the police will check the video footage of the event and will take action against them. I will also ask my volunteers to be more vigilant and disqualify mandals that are using kids despite court’s orders and announcements,” said Ahir.

Speaking to mid-day, Mahesh Patil, spokesperson of Mumbai Police, said, “We have sent a videography team to various spots where the competition is going on. We have instructed mandals to abide by the order and not let children below 12 years of age participate. If anyone is found guilty, we will take legal action against them.”

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