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SC ignored as dahi-handi celebrated with protests, black flags in Maharashtra

By Ians English

Mumbai, Aug 25: Despite a Supreme Court order on height restrictions, several organisations in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai celebrated the dahi-handi ritual on Janmashtmi with protests, black bands and black flags on Thursday.

Several politically-backed organisations of the estimated 1,500-plus groups who conduct the event flouted the apex court order. The court had set a 20 foot or four-tier height limit for the human pyramids formed the occasion of the festival that marks Lord Krishna's birthday.

SC ignored as Maha celebrates dahi handi

It had also ruled that minors would be excluded from acting as the Govinda at the top of the pyramid who is tasked with breaking the pot full of curd, milk and other goodies.

While one Dadar organisation built a 'horizontal' pyramid on the ground and then broke the pot at a height of more than 30 feet, but the Govinda climbed a ladder to break it.

The participants of some organisations sported black shorts and arm-bands to protest the apex court ruling and after breaking the dahi-handi, the topmost Govinda waved a black flag.

In Thane, an organisation backed by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) erected the dahi-handi at a height of 49 feet in an attempt to create a new world record which will be broken later in the day.

One of the main organisers and MNS activist Avinash Jadhav told mediapersons he was prepared "to go to jail" but would take orders only from his leader, Raj Thackeray.

Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said that the police were photographing and videographing the celebrations across the city.

"All those found flouting the Supreme Court norms shall be prosecuted depending on the kind of violations," Dudhe warned, though police have not directly intervened to stop the celebrations.

Some other organisations also constructed pyramids that had more than four tiers or exceeded 20 feet and even deployed minor boys to break the dahi-handi pot.

On Wednesday, a division bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Uday U. Lalit and Justice L. Nageswara Rao had upheld an earlier Bombay High Court ruling on the issue of height restrictions and participation of teenagers below 18 years during the celebrations.

The Bombay High Court order on April 11, 2014, had come in response to a PIL filed by social activist Swati S. Patil's Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sanstha citing hundreds of injuries, some permanent, and deaths, of Govindas when the human pyramids came crashing down.


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