Trekkers celebrating New Year in Lonavala thrashed, stripped by ‘fort lovers’ group
A group of trekkers who were camping at a fort in Lonavala near Pune were allegedly roughed up, and male members were forced to strip by 10 to 12 men and women who claimed to be ‘heritage buffs’, on New Year’s eve, police said on Wednesday.
The victims, who had came to celebrate New Year at Visapur Fort, had registered through a website for the camp at Lonavala, about 50km from Pune.
The incident comes close on the heels of an alleged mass molestation of women on December 31 night in Bengaluru.
According to a police complaint registered by a 36-year-old woman from Pune, 10 to 12 men and women, who claimed to be members of a ‘fort lovers’ group, allegedly roughed them up with sticks and belts.
She also alleged that the accused humiliated the male trekkers by forcing them to strip and abused the women.
“I along with my husband and other fellow couples had booked a camp, which was organised at Visapur Fort, through a website,” said the complainant, a fitness trainer, who claimed she suffered a hand fracture in the incident.
“We reached the spot at around 1pm on December 31 and found that there were around 25 more couples, who too had come on New Year’s eve through the same organisers,” the woman said in her complaint.
“At around 9.30pm, we were sitting around a camp fire when 10 to 12 persons came and accused us of littering the place,” she said.
“One of the women came near me and snatched a glass of cold drink. She thrashed me with a stick and kicked me and accused us of littering the fort,” she alleged.
Later, the other accused forced male trekkers to strip and thrashed them with sticks and belts, and hurled abuses at the women, the victim said in her statement to police.
She said the accused also roughed up the event organiser and warned all of them not to come back to the fort.
“The people who had attacked us even called our families and told them that we were indulging in obscene act by consuming liquor,” the woman told PTI.
The complainant said with the help of some villagers, they managed to leave the place and later reported the matter to police.
“We have registered a case of rioting against 10 to 12 people, including women, belonging to a ‘fort lovers’ group and investigation is on,” Sandip Yede-Patil, assistant police inspector, Lonavala rural police station, said.
Six of the accused have been identified so far, he said. The accused have been booked under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 504 (criminal intimidation) and 354 (molestation) of the IPC, Patil said.
He said the accused claimed that those present at the fort were consuming liquor, which is being verified.
The police officer said they are probing whether the organiser had taken necessary permission from authorities to hold the camp at the fort.
Meanwhile, the complainant claimed they were not consuming liquor as the organisers had told them not to carry alcohol and music systems to the venue.
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