In a bid to make the dahi handi festival safer for the participants, the state government has decided to constitute local monitoring committees comprising police officers and elected representatives to supervise events organised across the city.
In an affidavit filed before the Bombay high court, in response to a contempt petition filed against the government and BJP leader Ashish Shelar for failing to comply with the court’s earlier directions on precautions to be taken, the state submitted that it issued a circular to the above effect on March 31.
According to the circular, each of the committees will comprise the in charge of the police station concerned and the local municipal ward officer.
The government also said that it has made mandatory for the organisers of all dahi handi events in the city to provide medical insurance for each participant or govinda. The organisers will also have to give an undertaking stating they will provide the insurance as well as immediate medical aid to the participants, the affidavit read.
Responding to the restrictions imposed by the court on the height of the human pyramids and the minimum age of the participants — the HC limited the height of the pyramids to 20 feet and said only people over 18 years can participate — the state said that since it has challenged the HC’s order in the Supreme Court, and those restrictions at present stand suspended.
The contempt plea relates to an event in the city on February 11 last year in which participants had made a 43-feet-high nine-layered human pyramid. Several children too had participated in this event.
However, both the state government and Shelar have claimed in their respective replies that they have never violated the court’s direction all safety precautions including provision of requisite medical aid and safety gear were in place. Shelar also submitted that as the city president of the BJP, he was only an invitee at the event and had no link with the organisers.
Both the state and Shelar have sought that the contempt plea against them be quashed.