With Ganesh Chaturthi around the corner, the residents of Mumbai are already soaking in the festive spirit. But for 21-year-old Nandini Goswami, it is that time of the year that she is dreading the most. Still haunted by last year’s fiasco, she has decided to totally avoid the 10-day festival.
“It disturbs me now to even look at a Ganpati idol. I can’t imagine even being in the city or the state during that period. It will terribly trouble, I know it. I won’t be able to focus on work,” said Nandini, who will be travelling to Bhopal this week. However, Ganesh Chaturthi was not such a testing time for her always. Last year, on September 27, the Mumbai Police were left red-faced after a 29-second video clip went viral and it purportedly showed three policewomen shoving and repeatedly slapping Nandini near Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati pandal, after which the force ordered a probe into the incident. Nandini, who then worked as a background (junior) artiste in Bollywood, was reportedly beaten up after she tried to enter the pandal from the VIP gate.
Goswami was accompanied by her family, which reportedly included an aged grandmother and two minor children. Goswami had alleged that the family had also been manhandled after being taken to the local Kalachowkie police station.
“I have got no closure, no justice. Neither did the police call me again nor did they pursue the matter strictly. What happened that evening was a violation of human rights,” Nandini added.
The police, though, say Goswami’s case cannot be taken on face value. An interim report prepared by then zonal DCP Ashok Dudhe had found that it was the “victim” who had started the fight.
The interim report was submitted to the Mumbai Police chief on the afternoon of September 29, 2015, following which constables Varsha Patil and Anuradha Solunke, who were attached with the Local Arms III unit of the Mumbai Police, were placed under suspension. When contacted, Dudhe said the matter was “over” and “complete”. “Appropriate action was taken by the superiors,” Dudhe said.
Meanwhile, all the police involvement Nandini recollects are officers recording her statement and two women constables “who watched” her for three days during a shoot in the city. The police inquiry however stated the family “was not further manhandled” after being allegedly assaulted at Lalbaug and “were only taken to the police station to be charged under the Bombay Police Act for indecent behavior.
A medical report prepared by the civic-run Kandivli Shatabdi Hospital states that the patient was assaulted by four people using a “danda” (stick). The report read that there was an “abrasion on the left thigh and a history of assault on her back.” It opined that the injuries sustained by Nandini and her mother were caused by an “assault by 4-5 persons”. The doctor has pointed out that Nandini was beaten by a stick.
In the past one year, Nandini claims, her life has only revolved around the incident. “The video had gone viral, and I was on TV. It has been close to a year and still people have not stopped asking questions. It is tiring. How do I avoid all the questions without being rude?” said Nandini, who lives in a Mira Road apartment with her mother, a Yoga instructor, and 18-year-old brother who is pursuing commerce.
Nandini and her family had moved to Mumbai from Kutch in 2003 in search of better opportunities. “I have been involved in various jobs. It is not only restricted to acting or modelling. I’ve just returned from Manglore and from mid-September there is an event for which I’m doing marketing,” Nandini said.