The Mumbai police on Tuesday filed nine FIRs while two were filed by Thane police for violating the ban imposed on Dahi Handi celebrations by the Maharashtra state government.
As many as 120 people were named in these FIRs of which 85 were detained by Mumbai police. Some prominent leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) like Bala Nandgaonkar, Akhil Chitre and Sandeep Deshpande were also arrested.
MNS leader breaks handi near CM’s residence
A case has been registered against MNS vice president Akhil Chitre and another party worker Omkar Khandekar for breaking a Dahi handi near Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s residence in suburban Bandra.
In a video, the duo was seen breaking a Dahi Handi hanging low from a tree in a symbolic gesture near Kalanagar junction, off the Western Express Highway at Bandra East. Chitre has been asked to report to the Kherwadi police station for violating the guidelines.
In a statement to the PTI, Chitre said, “Police booked me and one more party worker under section 188 (Disobeying the order of public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and asked us to report to the Kherwadi police station. We will complete all the legal formalities.”
Several MNS workers booked
Mumbai police on Tuesday morning had detained nine MNS workers including five women for attempting to organize a Dahi Handi program near Ghatkopar link road.
A group of 20-25 MNS workers was detained at Shivaji Park including leader Sandeep Deshpande for trying to organize a 15-minute ritual. At Bhandup too another 25 party workers were arrested for similar violations.
Around 13 to 14 people including a few MNS karyakartas were booked by Kalachowky police as a precaution as they had announced organizing Dahi Handi in the area.
Few others were arrested for breaking Dahi Handi at Vartak Nagar and at Vishnu Nagar in the Naupada area. They were all released on bail later.
Raj Thackeray slams Maharashtra government
MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday alleged that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is using the Covid-19 crisis to their benefit. While speaking with the media, he also accused the state government of ‘selectively relaxing COVID-19 rules’ for some people.
“The actions of the Maharashtra government can be summed up in the words of veteran journalist P. Sainath who wrote a book Everybody Loves a Good Drought. The current actions of the State government are like ‘everybody loves a good lockdown’,” remarked Raj Thackeray after several of his party workers were arrested for going against the government’s guidelines.
Taking a dig at the MVA, he further said, “The arrest of the workers seems like a revenge politics (by the government). No action was taken against any leader of the Maha Vikas Aghadi for participating in public functions where no guidelines regarding the COVID-appropriate behaviour was followed.”
He also slammed the Uddhav Thackeray-led government for keeping the temples shut. “Morchas are not allowed, protests are not allowed and temples are shut. Tell me where we don’t have crowds? Rallies are on. The yatras are held. Street fights between political workers are on. We have seen it over Narayan Rane’s yatra. Sena legislator Bhaskar Jadhav’s son visits a temple, but others are not allowed. Why?” questioned the MNS chief.
“Government not anti-Hindu” claims Maharashtra CM
After facing severe criticism from the opposition for imposing a ban on the Hindu festival celebrations, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday claimed that his government is not “anti-Hindu”. He said that the steps taken were not against any festival, but an attempt to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Shifting the blame on the Centre, Thackeray in a virtual event remarked, “Those who are saying that our government is anti-Hindu, I want to show them a letter from the Centre which specifically asks to avoid crowding during Dahi Handi and Ganesh festival.”
“The government is not against any festival but is against the coronavirus. So those who want to agitate should protest against coronavirus,” he added further.
Vilifying the Hindu sentiments and drawing false equivalence, the CM said, “Some people have celebrated Dahi Handi. But this is not a fight for the country’s independence. What great freedom did they get by breaking Covid norms? Had they agitated for freedom, it would have been different.”
“Curbs on Ganeshotsav will not be tolerated” says BJP
After a muted Dahi Handi, BJP MLA Ashish Shelar issued a warning on Tuesday saying if the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government tries to stop the Ganeshotshav, there will be retaliation from the party.
“The state government on Tuesday used police force, filed cases and arrested BJP workers who wanted to celebrate Dahi Handi while observing all Covid-19 norms. Its highhandedness went on without protest. But if it tries to stop Ganesh celebrations, BJP will not tolerate it. It will strongly retaliate,” said Shelar while speaking with the media.
He also condemned the state government for using police force to dampen the Hindu spirit.
“Festivals are being banned on the pretext that it draws crowd, which is not good amid the pandemic. If that is the case, why are discos, bars and liquor shops being allowed to stay open? What about the huge crowd in these places?” questioned Shelar.
BJP leaders had demanded to be allowed to celebrate Dahi Handi with vaccinated participants.
Police team at BJP leader’s residence
A team of Mumbai police on Tuesday had reached the residence of Maharashtra BJP leader Ram Kadam after he had announced organizing Dahi Handi celebrations on the occasion of Janmashtami. He had also accused the state government of putting him under house arrest and restricting his movement.
Kadam had sought permission to celebrate the festival with just five people all of whom were fully vaccinated. “This Hindu tradition is very old and we need to keep the tradition alive. We won’t be breaking any Covid protocols. But I am not being allowed to move out from my house,” had alleged Kadam.