WHILE MANY of Dahi Handi organisers are relieved after the Bombay High Court ruling on Monday, no action has been taken against those alleged to have violated the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court last year. In areas such as Thane, where those violating the restrictions were booked under stringent sections, no arrest has been made and no chargesheet filed yet. This year, the state has imposed an age restriction for Dahi Handi, according to which children below 14 years of age cannot participate in the human pyramid formations.
Last year, as per Supreme Court guidelines, the height of the pyramid could not cross 20 feet and children below the age of 18 were not allowed to participate. At several spots, policemen with video cameras had been deployed to video shoot the proceedings that could later work as evidence. One of the major alleged violations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region was one at the Jai Jawan Dahi Handi mandal in Thane, which set up a massive human pyramid measuring at least 42 feet at one point, twice the limit set by the apex court.
After the violation came to light, the local Naupada police on August 28 last year registered a case under Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code that carries a maximum imprisonment of three years.
A year later, the local police has not made any arrests in the case and neither has a chargesheet been filed in the matter. Naupada police inspector P N Patil said, “No arrests have been made in the case. This has been the case in all the FIRs related to Dahi Handi that were filed last year. The reason behind this is that Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ashish Shelar had written to the chief minister, asking for stringent sections to be dropped in these cases.” Patil added: Hence we have not proceeded in these cases.”
In August last year, Shelar wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, asking for serious sections invoked against participants to be dropped. In Mumbai last year, a total of 21 FIRs were registered in police stations across the city during Dahi Handi festivities for violation of guidelines. Of the total 21cases, seven FIRs were filed by the Chembur police.
In Mumbai, in most cases, violators were booked under comparatively lenient sections carrying an imprisonment of one year along with a fine of Rs 1000. Chembur senior inspector Sandip Dal said, “We had filed chargesheets in all the FIRs related to Dahi Handi violations last year itself. I am not aware what happened during the trial.” An officer from the Mumbai police said, “In most of these cases, the accused are asked to pay a fine by the court.”