An all-girls team from Mumbai that was invited to be part of a Dahi Handi celebration in Pune, was in for a shock after it was teased and harassed by locals at Gokhale Nagar in Wadarwadi. The unruly locals forced them out of their car when they learnt that the group had been brought in exclusively for an all-girls Dahi Handi event. The girls from the Agripada Mahila Govinda Pathak were detained for almost six hours and forced to break their handi before being allowed to leave.
It was only after the handi was broken that the rattled members of the team could make their way to Kishore Shinde Mitra Parivar in Kothrud, where a Dahi Handi was organised by the local Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporator with Deepa Sanas, granddaughter of the first city mayor Baburao Sanas. Confirming the incident, the father of a member of the team said: "Pune is still not safe for girls who come from outside. We shall never come back here."
In spite of the problems that the team faced, they chose not to register a complaint with the local police station. Sources from the MNS said that four boys with the girls from Mumbai were also beaten by the slum-dwellers in Wadarwadi. This was also not reported to the police. Mahadev Chavan, Senior police inspector, said: "There were no such complaints registered. We were on bandobast duty." Ashok Nagaonkar, father of team member Aditi, said the Wadarwadi incident was traumatising for the young girls.
"We were invited because Punekars wanted to see trained girl govindas and their skill at building a human pyramid and breaking the dahi handi. Even though we received a warm reception at Kothrud, where women cheered the team, it was unnerving for all of us at Gokhale Nagar because of what happened there. And we are retuning with some painful memories of harassment meted out to girls in the age group of 7 to 15 years. All the girls are shaken by the incident and demoralised," he said.
Kishor Shinde of the MNS, who was the chief organiser of the Dahi Handi exclusively for women, confirmed that the girls were stuck at Wadarwadi. "I received a call from a parent of one of the members and we went there and rescued them and brought them to Jeet ground. It is really an unfortunate incident," Shinde said. Deepa Sanas, who had initiated the event, was unaware of the incident and said she would make enquiries to find out what had happened at Gokhale Nagar.