Dy CM asks police to ensure devotees’ safety at mandals
At present 800 policemen, two deputy commissioners of police and one additional police commissioner are posted at the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal 24/7. Extra police force will be deployed over the weekends
Mumbai: The viral video of a stampede-like situation outside the city’s much-revered Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh mandal on Wednesday evening has prompted home minister Devendra Fadnavis to caution the Mumbai police to make better arrangements for the devotees.
The video showed thousands of devotees swarming around the barricades with many of them losing their footing and a baby falling off his guardian’s arms but being rescued in the nick of time by another person. It highlighted the dangers of such large crowds gathering in cramped spaces. Officials estimate about 7-8 lakh people come pandal hopping at Chinchpokli every day while this numbers usually swells to 12-13 lakh devotees on the weekends every year. There are three popular Ganesh mandals in a radius of a few hundred metres-- Chinchpokli cha Chintamani, Mumbaicha Raja at Ganesh Gulli and Lalbaug cha Raja.
“The gate where this video footage has been captured seems to be from Chiwda gulli, which is manned by the Lalbaug Mandal and not by the police. The police manage the other three gates from where VIPs visit, for Mukhdarshan gate, and the Charan Sparsh gate,” said a police officer. “The crowd was however restricted to the entry gates after the zigzag barricades were opened. And it is here that the swarming happened. Once they got past this barricade, the devotees’ movements became smooth.”
At present 800 policemen, two deputy commissioners of police and one additional police commissioner are posted at the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal 24/7. Extra police force will be deployed over the weekends.
While defending the police deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said there is a need to take different measures to control overcrowding. “The police regularly conduct drills to control the crowd and all crowd management is being done in consultation with the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. But it is also true that sometimes there is overcrowding and different measures are required to be taken,” he added.
Sudhir Salvi, president of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal too defended his team’s crown management system. “We have a large number of volunteers to control the crowds and supports the police. The viral video of the mishap is not from Lalbaugcha Raja pandal though we are ensuring that our crowd control measures are effective.”
The idol of Lord Ganesha at Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, situated at Putlabai Chawl, has been a focal point of worship since its inception in 1934. To accommodate the throngs of devotees, Lalbaugcha Raja offers two distinct queues. One is the “Mukh darshan,” which provides a chance to catch a glimpse of the deity, while the other is the “Navas darshan line,” which allows devotees to approach the stage and reverently touch Lord Ganesha’s feet.