IN A bizarre incident, unidentified armed miscreants allegedly forced the Indore Municipal Corporation pageant to the fag end of the Anant Chaturdashi procession from its designated number three spot.
According to eyewitnesses, the miscreants blocked the float’s way and threatened the driver of the tractor carrying the tableau with dire consequences every time he attempted to move up.
The blockade, which followed another incident yesterday during which a float featuring Mayor Uma Shashi Sharma was damaged, fuelled suspicions that the pageant was deliberately sabotaged by a faction opposed to the Mayor.
The Mayor herself minced no words accusing the administration of adopting a “biased attitude against the Corporation”, a charge denied by ADM Rameshwar Gupta.
The upshot was that the IMC float finally arrived at the deserted Chimanbag Square at 4.30 am. More than two hours behind schedule and long after the last of the bystanders had left for home. As had the Corporation officials who were supposed to accompany the float.
Indore Nagar Nigam Karamchari Mahasangh president Ramlal Yadav and half-a-dozen employees were the only ones left by the time the straggling pageant lined up behind the queue of floats.
“The pageant was initially held up owing to haphazard akhara processions. When the driver tried to move further ahead, however, he was threatened by several toughs armed with weapons,” recounted Yadav. “They insisted that our pageant not move until all other floats had passed,” he added.
The hoodlums, said Yadav, instilled such fear among Corporation officials that they decided to park the float to one side near Bhandari Mill trisection and only moved up when all other tableaux were gone.
“Even the Mayor who was travelling in a jeep immediately ahead became separated as a result of the blockade and traversed the entire procession route with the float lagging far behind,” Yadav revealed.
Mayor Uma Shashi Sharma was unavailable for comment on the issue. Meanwhile, the Mayor is learnt to have directed Municipal Commissioner to order an inquiry into the security lapse that led to an IMC float being damaged yesterday.
Supporters of Mayor-in-Council member, and follower of the Kailash Vijayvargiya camp opposed to the Mayor, Lal Bahadur Verma allegedly ransacked and damaged a tableau depicting Dr Sharma planting neem saplings.