Mumbai cops crack whip on misbehaving Ganeshotsav volunteers

Mumbai, Sep 17 : A day after Home Minister R.R. Patil's warning, Mumbai police cracked down on volunteers of the famous Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav volunteers who allegedly misbehaved with a policeman, an official said here Tuesday.

The Kalachowkie police also lodged two complaints by devotees being manhandled by overzealous volunteers deployed by the organisers and for physically assaulting a police sub-inspector, Additional Police Commissioner Praveen Salunkhe told media persons.

A woman Monday lodged a complaint of harassment and manhandling by the volunteers while a police officer, Ashok Sarmale, who was pushed around and kicked, also registered his grievance.

"We have lodged a case of molestation in the complaint by the woman devotee and charges of obstructing government servant from discharging his duties in the second instance," Salunkhe said.

A volunteer, Manoj Sharma, has been arrested in the complaint lodged by the policemen and investigations are underway in the first complaint.

The developments took place a day after Patil's stern warning to all Ganeshotsav organisers and their volunteers to "behave" with women devotees, failing which they would face action.

His warning came in the wake of the blatant pulling of hair, pushing, dragging of many women devotees by volunteers at the famous Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal in Parel during the ongoing 10-day festival, which comes to an end Wednesday.

Many indignant women strongly protested at the outrage and several demanded to know how the volunteers "dare to touch" and pull the female devotees.

The incidents were telecast on several TV channels and also on various social networking sites, sparking off strong protests especially since the devotees queue up for 18-20 hours before getting a fraction of a minute for a 'darshan' of their beloved elephant-headed god.

Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai's most favourite idol of Lord Ganesh, attracts an average of around 1.20 million devotees every day who religiously queue up for a 'darshan'.

However, many women devotees have been facing hardships and humiliation at the hands of the overzealous volunteers who will now be under the spotlight of the police.

--IANS (Posted on 17-09-2013)

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