With Dahi Handi two days away, dry runs for forming human pyramids are in full swing. But a section of participants are cutting practice out of fear.
After Thursday’s chilling gang rape of a photojournalist in Mahalaxmi, many women who want to be part of the competitions say they are afraid of being molested in the crowd. They have demanded extra security from police force.
Enthusiasm of female participants, at its peak around this time of the year, has fizzled to a din of concern and anxiety, in the wake of the ghastly incident at Shakti Mills. “Practice of women’s troupes has taken a setback as most of them are not only enraged but also mentally disturbed,” said Dahi Handi coaches.
Wrapping it up early
“The female govindas want to get home early rather than waiting back to practise thoroughly since their families are restless until they return. Women’s troupes have been able to form six tiers and are aiming for the seventh, but the mental impediments are leading to lack of concentration at practice,” a coach said.
“Women have demanded extra protection from local police stations and event organisers,” claimed a group’s member. “The organisers should have a separate space to let women form pyramids. There are about 35 women’s troupes in the city and this season they would be raising slogans about respect for the gender and the need to educate men against sexual violence of any form and sensitise them.”
Pallavi Kale, senior member of Sfurti Seva mandal, said, “Thursday’s incident has affected women across the city and we are no different. Our practice to form six tiers was going at full pelt until last Friday. But now, even our coach makes it a point to leave us by 9.30 pm, as opposed to the usual 10.30 pm. In case we have to wait, we stay back at friends’ places nearby to avoid creating tension.”
Geeta Zhagde, coach of Parle Sports Club Mahila Dahi Handi Pathak, said, “The police need to take serious action against people creating unnecessary trouble for women. Our slogan for the year is ‘Got Reservation, But What About Security?’ This whole thing has built up fear and tension not only among participants but also their parents.”