There was tension in Dongri on Sunday after three hawkers and the manager of a cyber café were allegedly assaulted for refusing to contribute towards the forthcoming Ganesh festival.
The police have arrested three members of a local Ganesh mandal for extortion, wrongful confinement and wrongful restraint and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Police said when members of the mandal approached hawkers and shopkeepers in the area for donation for the festival (vargani), they were refused. “The members of the mandal beat the hawkers. Some unidentified hawker then removed a knife to threaten the mandal members when they assaulted the shopkeepers further,” said R.K. Padmanabhan, additional commissioner of police (south region). “We are now trying to find out who removed a weapon to threaten the members of the mandal. We will also take action against that person.”
The owner of Infinity cyber café whose manager was allegedly assaulted, said: “Every year, we pay Rs 51 to Rs 101 as donation but this year the mandal members demanded Rs 201 from each of us. We can’t afford that much.”
The owner said the manager of his cyber café, was sitting at the counter when the men approached some hawkers outside the café and demanded the money. “When the hawkers refused to pay, the men started beating them. The manager intervened and was also thrashed,” said the owner, who was at the Dongri police station to lodge a complaint against the chairman of the mandal.
The hawkers, who were beaten, sold coconut water outside the cafe.
The owner said after the incident, a police sub inspector and two constables from Dongri police station came to the spot and asked the cyber café manager to accompany them. “At the police station, the policemen assaulted him claiming he was carrying a weapon. When he vomited, he was let off,” the owner alleged.
When asked whether he would take action against the policemen who assaulted the manager, Assistant Commissioner of Police Suresh Sarkhe said, “We are looking into the matter and will take appropriate action after inquiry.”
The victims were taken to JJ Hospital in Byculla. Normalcy had returned to the area by the end of the day, police said.