Mandal chief Vidyadhar Ghadi confirmed, “The incident occurred on the intervening night of Saturday-Sunday. There was unprecedented rush because this is the only weekend this Ganeshotsav. Our volunteers were manning the barricades and trying to stop the crowds from surging inside from all directions.”
Ghadi claimed, “The man who was beaten was a chain snatcher who tried to rob a woman devotee’s necklace in the melee. As she screamed, the thief tried to run inside the pandal. That was when our volunteers beat him to stop him fleeing. In fact, our boys also suffered injuries to the hand.”
However, the woman in question is untraceable so the mandal was unable to prove its claim. The victim who was beaten did not file a police complaint or FIR nor did the woman who was allegedly being robbed.
The mandal alleged that the incident could be an “orchestrated attempt to provoke karyakartas and sully the name of the 103-year pandal”. “Darshan is under way 24 hours so our boys are well trained in crowd management. Through the season we conduct meetings on how to make darshan easy for worshipers. Never has such an incident like this occurred at our venue before,” Ghadi said.
Mandals in Lalbaug-Parel belt routinely receive thousands of devotees during Ganeshotsav. One lakh people had crammed the streets for a glimpse of Chinchpokli Cha Chintamani a few days before the festival.