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Defying SC, Maharashtra celebrates Dahi Handi with protests

Defying SC, Maharashtra celebrates Dahi Handi with protests

Mumbai: Several organisations in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai celebrated Krishna Janmashtami on Thursday, flouting the Supreme Court order on 'Dahi Handi' height and expressing their protest with black bands.

The popular game of forming a human pyramid to reach and break a 'Dahi Handi' (a pot of curd or butter) at a height was organised by several politically-backed organisations by violating the norms endorsed by the Supreme Court -- no more than 20 feet height and exclusion of minors.

Mumbai Police spokesperson Ashok Dudhe said that the police are photographing and videographing the celebrations across the city.

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

Till 6 p.m., various government hospitals had over a 100 injured Dahi Handi participants from different parts of Mumbai and Thane but a majority were discharged after treatment of their injuries and the rest admitted as under observation.

One injured 'Govinda', as a participant in the Dahi Handi game is known, was reported to be in a serious condition in Ulhasnagar in Thane, an official said.

Unmindful of police, one Chinchpokli organisation built a horizontal nine-tier human pyramid on the ground, and another bypassed the restrictions by hanging the pot at a height of more than 30 feet - with the Govinda climbing up a ladder to break it.

The Govindas of some organisations sported black shorts and arm-bands to protest against 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 hung the Dahi Handi at a height of 49 feet in an attempt to create a new world record.

One of the main organisers and MNS activist Avinash Jadhav said he was prepared "to go to jail" but would take orders only from his leader, Raj Thackeray, who has been critical of the restrictions.

A Govinda in Thane amused onlookers when he carried a measuring tape between his teeth to ensure he did not exceed the 20-feet limit.

Some other organisations also constructed pyramids that were more than four tiers or exceeding 20 feet and even used minor boys to break the Dahi Handi.

Among the highlights of the celebrations were Maharashtra's first all-blind team of Govindas from Nayan Foundation who built a four-tier pyramid amidst huge applause by the gathering in Dadar.

Displaying religious amity, the Jari-Mari Sanstha in Mahim first offered respects at the famous 14th century tomb of Muslim Saint Makhdoom Ali Shah and then launched the Janmashtami celebrations.

Police moved swiftly in Thane to book at least 19 organisations flouting the apex court orders, while the figures were being tabulated in Mumbai on Thursday.

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

The Bombay High Court orders of April 11, 2014, had come in response to a PIL petition filed by social activist Swati S. Patil's Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sanstha, citing injuries of Govindas when human pyramids came crashing down.

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