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'Lalbaugcha Raja' volunteer arrested for 'abusing' cop

A volunteer from one of the city's most famous Ganesh pandals has been arrested for allegedly obstructing a policeman from doing his duty.

The policeman yesterday complained that he had been obstructed from doing his duty by Deepak Sharma, a volunteer of 'Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal'. He has since been booked and placed under arrest, Additional Commissioner of Police (Central Region) Praveen Salunkhe said.

"We have registered two cases which took place within the pandal premises. A female devotee complained that she was inappropriately touched by one of the activists handling the crowd at the pandal on Saturday. After seeking blessings, she came out and lodged a complaint on Sunday, but nobody has been arrested in this case," Salunkhe said.

Meanwhile, in the third such case of its kind, video footage of devotees being manhandled went viral and sparked outrage after it was aired by a television news channel on Sunday.

The footage showed devotees, who had reached the inner sanctum after standing in line for as long as 24 hours, being pushed away by volunteers, as they were paying their respects to the Ganesh idol.

After watching the visuals, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil directed Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh to ensure that devotees are not badly treated at the pandal.

"We have watched the footage. However, no complaint has been registered against volunteers who were seen pushing devotees in the video footage. If anybody lodges a complaint, we will take strict action against these persons," a police officer said.

Last year, a woman constable, Hirabai Pawar, who was deployed at the Ganesh pandal, was slapped by a volunteer, who was later arrested.

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