Cops offer respite to fair pilgrims, but only just
Cement Road to remain partly open only for devotees exiting Mount Mary's Basilica; approach from Bandstand to stay out of bounds
Five days after MiD DAY had reported on how police inconvenienced Mount Mary pilgrims by barricading the road adjoining Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow, the road was partially opened to pilgrims yesterday.
The opening of Cement Road, which was allegedly blocked by cops to ensure peace to SRK during the Bandra Fair, however, comes with a rider. The thoroughfare will only be accessible for pilgrims exiting the Basilica, while entry will still be restricted. Police have not removed the entire barrier, but only a part has been got rid off to ensure an exit.
Many residents from the neighbourhood have been approaching cops in the past to refrain from barricading the road during the weeklong fair, as the road gives them a far easy access to the shrine to and from Bandstand, rather than taking the circuitous route from Mehboob Studio.
Residents had even alleged that the local police were going out of their way to give undue leisure to SRK while the pilgrims continue to suffer.
Last week, MiD DAY highlighted residents’ and pilgrims’ woes on how police had barricaded the pedestrian route that passed next to SRK’s home – just for his convenience (‘Cops barricade road to Bandra fair so that SRK is not disturbed, September 7’).
Judith Monteiro, one of the group members fighting against the illegal blocking of the road, said, “We are thankful to MiD DAY because only due to your regular articles published, the decision has been taken. What’s more, cops have assured us that next year Cement Road will be utilised for pilgrim movement.”
Another group member John Fernandes said, “A big thank you to MiD DAY for their continuous support. The police have finally woken up after three years. We will have a meeting with church authorities and decide for next year well in advance.”
DCP Pratap Dighavkar, zone 9, said, “We have opened the road for the exit way. Also any handicapped or senior citizens can take the walk up the church from Cement Road. This time, pilgrims will be coming from Mehboob Studio, but from the next year we will use the Cement Road for the entry to the church.”
Meanwhile, with no vehicles allowed to enter the lane, except SRK’s car, advocate Joe Sodder said, “How can police let vehicles ply on this road when it is already closed and barricaded.” The police said they would not allow any vehicles and not let anyone in.