The suburb of Bhosari,which keeps hogging limelight for incidents of murders and gang wars,is in the news again these days,but this time for a different reason. For two weeks,the suburb hosted a district-level kabaddi and a state-level wrestling competitions that have drawn attention from across Maharashtra. On each day of the contests,a sea of humanity turned up to cheer the participants,making it what local residents called a spectacular show.
It all began on November 24 when Bhosari suddenly sprang to life as the district-level kabaddi competition started on a crackling note with youngsters from several villages and suburbs of Pune district putting their skills on display,much to the delight of the crowd. As many as 72 boys teams and 30 girls teams had descended on Bhosari for four-day contests. The way the youngsters played in each match was simply seen to be believed, said Raju Mote,a resident of Bhosari who rushed to watch the matches as soon as he returned from his Tata Motors office where he works.
After the kabaddi contests got over,the much-awaited wrestling competition,Maharashtra Kesari,took off amid enthusiasm and boisterous scenes,generally reserved for bullock cart races in Bhosari. But with the races running into controversies,Bhosaris enthusiasm had been dampened only to be resurrected by the kabaddi and wrestling competitions organised by the Mahesh Landge Sports Foundation.
Old-timers recalled that wrestling used to be the only sport that was played in every nook and corner of Bhosari four to five decades ago. Like Kolhapur,which is famous for its wrestling akhadas,Bhosari was known for its wrestling heroes. But these days quarrels between youths,wielding choppers and swords,have become common on Bhosaris terrain. I hope events like this will turn things around for Bhosari, said Krishna Marale,a resident of Dighi.
The four-day wrestling competition,which began on December 1,witnessed a crowd of over around 70,000 drawn from across Pune and other parts of Maharashtra on each day of the event. The sheer numbers that turned out on each day was much more than the 40,000 capacity of Gahunje stadium which hosts IPL matches, said Prakash Landge,who works with PMPML.
On the last day,the number was much bigger. In all,over 3 lakh people turned up to witness the wrestling contests on the four days, said Kartik Landge,brother of corporator Mahesh Landge,the brain behind the events.
What was important was that the crowd was disciplined and enjoyed every moment of the bouts with claps,whistles and cheers. There was no ugly scene, said Mote,who lives near the venue where the matches were played.
The wrestling bouts were set up on the open group near the famous Bhosari lake. A makeshift stadium was set up to accommodate the surging crowd. There was a deafening roar every time a wrestler grounded an opponent or was declared the winner, said Akash,a college student.
Over 650 wrestlers and their coaches from all major districts,including Sangli,Satara,Kolhapur,Thane,Nashik,Nagpur,Aurangabad,Ratnagiri,Kalyan,Ahmednagar,Buldhana,Bhandara and Jalgaon had landed in Bhosari. There were 44 teams and each of them was housed in a 2 BHK or 3 BHK flat in Bhosari.
And when it came to tickling the taste buds of the wrestlers,the organisers left no stone unturned. A special arrangement was made in Sheetalbaug area of Bhosari for their breakfast,lunch and dinner. A group of youths drawn from various parts of Bhosari remained at the beck and call of the wrestlers. Every morning,2,000 eggs were distributed among the wrestlers. Besides,twice in the day,we made available 650 litres of milk. Also,600 kg chicken was prepared every day. Even vegetarian food was up for grabs, said Swapnil Landge,one of the organisers.
The competitions were inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who praised the Mahesh Landge Sports Foundation for organising the event and making Bhosari feel proud. However,Pawar said it was not appropriate on part of Landge to not invite MLA Vilas Lande,who is his father-in-law,and Mayor Mohini Lande. You have erred by not inviting them. You may have issues with them,but those should be kept within the family… he advised.
Mahesh Landge said he had put in his might to ensure that the event was a success. Still,if have erred on some counts,the people should forgive me, he said.
Only one top NCP leader,Yogesh Behl,made his presence felt at the event as the Mahesh Landge camp also sounded its poll bugle from Bhosari constituency where his father-in-law is likely to re-contest for the third term.
The venue for competitions was not far from the residence of MLA Vilas Lande. However,the Mahesh Landge camp completely ignored the Landes. The Landge camps argues that Mahesh has been consistently sidelined by Vilas Lande who appointed his wife as mayor and gave the standing committee chairmans post to another relative. Mahesh Landge has got nothing despite being a corporator for two terms. If he is ignoring us,we will also turn a blind eye towards him, said an associate of Landge.
But in the war between the Landes and Landges,the residents of Bhosari have gained. Such events and cultural activities are badly needed in Bhosari where we only get to hear murders and bloody attacks. People are getting murdered for petty reasons. One of the murders occurred just because two two-wheelers brushed against each other,triggering arguments that eventually led to a murder, said Martui Bhapkar of the Aam Aadmi Party.