Mumbai police bunk hearing in Lalbaugcha Raja devotees manhandling case

Jan 12, 2019, 18:06 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

A statement recorded during the hearing mentioned that the police was reluctant to allow some VIPs and VVIPs referred by other government offices, into the pandal, leading to chaos

Mumbai police bunk hearing in Lalbaugcha Raja devotees manhandling case
Lakhs of devotees visit the Lalbaughcha Raja mandal every year. File pic

Not present: the Mumbai Police does a no-show at a meeting called by the Charity Commissioner over the alleged manhandling of devotees and police personnel by Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav mandal's volunteers.

Details of an inquiry into this were revealed in a report of which mid-day has a copy. Following media reports and an official visit of the city commissioner, Shivkumar Dige, to the pandal last year, an inquiry was initiated in the mandal's functioning. It focused on crowd management with the deputy charity commissioner calling all involved parties for a hearing. The police, however, did not record its statement.

Additional Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shisve, DCP (zone 3) Avinash Kumar and DCP (zone 4) N Ambika were asked to be present on October 3 for a hearing at the Charity Commissioner's office but none of them showed up. A statement recorded during the hearing mentioned that the police was reluctant to allow some VIPs and VVIPs referred by other government offices, into the pandal, leading to chaos.

Inquiry report
The inquiry report submitted by the deputy charity commissioner has recommended that the charity commissioner should come up with measures for smooth management of crowd at the pandal during the festival and streamline queues of devotees, VIPs and VVIPs.Charity Commissioner Dige (who has now been transferred) passed a final order in the matter mentioning that the attitude of the police of allowing only its own department's VIPs and ignoring other government officials is wrong.

"I will have to check the report before commenting," DCP N Ambika said. Sudhir Salvi, secretary of the mandal, said, "We cleared our side by mentioning that there was no serious incident and that our mandal has a lot of volunteers to handle the crowd every day."

Final order
The commissioner's office representative will now along with a police representative and mandal representative design the entry-exit plan during the festival. The management of queues among other decisions related to the safety of devotees will be discussed. A representative of the charity commissioner's office will also be present at the pandal from this year during the opening of donation boxes by mandal's office bearers.

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