August 22, 2016 12:03:59 am
Eleven migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh were humiliated allegedly by members of a Ganesh Mandal (puja organisers) for not paying the donation demanded by them, following which some of the workers left for their home state.
Police have booked three members of the Shri Ram Ganesh Mandal, based in Bhosari, and charged them with bailable offences.
After lodging the complaint, the workers — all Muslims in their 20s and 30s, who worked in a bakery — apparently quit their jobs and some of them left for their homes.
The incident happened on August 15, when members of the Ganesh mandal approached the staff of Crown Bakers, on the Bhosari-Alandi Road in Pimpri-Chinchwad, and demanded ‘Ganpati vargani’ (donation for Ganesh festival). According to police, the mandal workers demanded vargani of Rs 100, but the workers said they would pay only Rs 50. The mandal members then allegedly threatened them and made them do sit-ups on the busy road.
The police said the mandal members apparently recorded the incident on their cellphones and shared it with their friends. The video, which later went viral, shows the youths being told to do sit-ups while holding their ears and being told to repeatedly say sorry.
“We have booked three members of the Ganesh mandal, but have not arrested them. The offence is bailable. A notice has been issued to the three to be present in court on Monday to secure bail,” said Assistant Police Inspector Mahesh Swamy. The police said they had relied on a Supreme Court verdict while registering the bailable offence.
The complaint was registered on Saturday, apparently after the video went viral. However, when asked about it, Swamy said they acted only after three to four complainants approached them. “The complainants told us how they were threatened and humiliated,” he said.
When The Indian Express team reached Crown Bakery on Sunday, the workers said they were all fresh recruits, and those who were involved in the incident had quit. “We have no clue about their whereabouts. They could have left Pune,” one of them said.
When the bakery owner was contacted, he refused to comment. “The matter has ended… we don’t want to prolong the issue,” he said.
Swamy, however, said that the bakery owner had told him that three to four youths had left for their village in Uttar Pradesh. “The other youths are not reporting for work out of fear,” Swamy added.
Shivaji Shinde, who has let out his premises on rent to Crown Bakers, said, “It seemed the bakery workers and mandal members had some dispute over Ganpati donations, after which the bakery workers were asked to do sit-ups. The mandal workers erred in making a video and sharing it.” He refused to go into further details. Shinde said he heard about the incident but was not a witness.
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