Trekkers celebrating New Year thrashed, stripped by 'bhakts' at Lonavala fort

Updated: 08 January, 2017 11:48 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh |

New Year celebrations for trekkers from Pune and Mumbai turned into a nightmare as they were manhandled, stripped naked and beaten up by group of self-proclaimed 'bhakts' of Shivaji at a Lonavala-based fort

Shalini Pallav Jhala suffered a fracture in her right arm (right) main accused Rasika
Shalini Pallav Jhala suffered a fracture in her right arm (right) main accused Rasika

Pune: New Year celebrations for these trekkers from Pune and Mumbai turned into a nightmare when they were manhandled, stripped naked and beaten up by a group of self-proclaimed ‘bhakts’ of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at a Lonavala-based fort. They were even forced to hold saffron flags and chant slogans like ‘Jai Shivaji, Jai Bhavani’.

15 people involved
The incident came to light when a Pune-based fitness trainer Shalini Pallav Jhala (36) approached SP (Lonavala Rural Police) Jay Jadhav and registered a complaint against 15 people, including six girls.

In search of a peaceful place to celebrate their New Year, Shalini and her husband decided to go on a camp to Visapur Fort adjacent to Lohagad near Lonavala. They were joined by two of her husband’s office colleagues and their spouses.

Scary night
Speaking to mid-day, Shalini said, “While looking up the Internet, I found a travel website ‘Life Away From Life’ that had details about the camp at Visapur Fort and mentioned the charges as R3,000 per person. Thereafter, I made the bookings for us, including my husband’s colleagues Nilesh Vaidya and Priyanka and their spouses.”

Married! So what?
She further said, “We reached the spot around 1 pm on December 31. Nearly 40 other families were present at the camp. While playing cricket around 3.30 pm, we heard a loud noise coming from a distance, but we ignored it. Later, in the evening when we were enjoying a campfire, suddenly a group of six girls dressed in salwaar kameez and armed with bamboo sticks came and started abusing us. They thought we were drunk and had taken drugs. When we told them that we were married couples, they asked us to show our mangalsutras and abused us for not wearing bindi.”

“Later, a gang of nine boys arrived at the spot and forced the men to take off their clothes. They even poured cold drink on them and asked them to chant slogans related to Shivaji Maharaj holding saffron flags,” she added.

Five-year-old beaten up
Shalini also mentioned that one of them snatched her mobile phone and called up her father-in-law to tell him that she was dancing before four men. “A girl by the name Rasika kicked me and said that we were creating nuisance in the area. They even beat up Nilesh’s five-year-old son. He is still in shock as he saw his mother being slapped and father being brutally beaten up. My right hand has been fractured. Later, when one of the guests at the camp informed the police, two constables arrived at the spot and rescued us. When we approached the local police station to register a case, they did not show any interest. Hence, we decided not to go ahead with it.”

Main accused booked
However, on Tuesday when she approached SP Jadhav, he immediately asked his staff to register a case and said that an internal inquiry would be conducted against the officers, who didn’t accept the complaint. Speaking to mid-day, Jadhav said, “We have registered a case against the volunteers and organiser Pratik Dasgupta, as he did not have the requisite permission to organise the camp under Bombay Police Act. The main accused Rasika has been booked. We will soon arrest all the volunteers.”

Additional superintendent of police Rajkumar Shinde said, “We have registered a case based on Shalini’s complaint. Through Dasgupta we are trying to get the contact details of the other families, who were present at the camp. Action will be taken against the officers who did not take the case seriously.”

First Published: 04 January, 2017 10:30 IST

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