Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A muted welcome to new year as city mourns Delhi girl


Many Cut Down On Celebrations For Angariki Chaturthi


 Bella Jaisinghani TNN

    Perhaps for the first time since New Year 2009 when the wounds of 26/11 were still raw, the advent of another new year was muted in the city.
    Several celebrations to welcome 2013 were cancelled owing to the death of the Delhi gangrape victim. Moreover, the fasting festival of Angariki Chaturthi began at midnight, prompting most Maharashtrians to abstain from meat and alcohol.
    Railway clubs across the city cancelled their celebrations. “We were to attend the annual bash at Nirmal Park, a railway club opposite Rani Baug, but learned that the authorities had called it off,” said a resident of Mazgaon. Mahindra Park in Ghatkopar also aborted its New Year’s Eve plans to honour the memory of the deceased girl.
    Hoteliers and bar owners confirmed only 50% turnout was witnessed till late on Monday evening. “There is a drop in the number of men who come to only drink. But families are out in strength,” said Karan Menon, owner of What’s Cooking restaurant in Gorai. “Three factors have contributed to low attendance. For one, Angariki Chaturthi will begin at midnight, the New Year’s Eve has fallen on a weekday and people are mourning the Delhi rape victim. Bookings were lower than expectation and the turnout is just 50% of that in previous years,” said Shashikant Shetty, general secretary of AHAR, an association of over 7,500 bars and restaurants in the city.
    Echoing him, Pradeep Shetty, of the parallel Hotels and Restaurants Association of Western India, said, “Ticket sales were not up to the mark and by late Monday evening, the turnout was poor, perhaps around 50% of usual.”
    Vast crowds flocked to temples instead. Chairman of the Siddhivinayak temple trust Subhash Mayekar said more than 8,000 devotees lined up by 8pm for darshan that would start at 1.30am on Tuesday.
    Through New Year’s Eve, a series of rallies, hoping to secure women’s safety in India, continued. Posters dripping sarcasm invited Mumbai’s “dented and painted” women to reclaim the streets at a solidarity march in Dadar at midnight. Volunteers assembled at Chaityabhoomi after 10.30pm and asked people to ‘Take Back the Night’ with “friends, family, lovers and pets”.
    Another march began at Marine Drive at 4pm, urging the government to ensure safety for women and kids in 2013. Demanding speedy arrest and conviction of sex-offenders, protesters said harassment be made a cognizable offence. Tennis star Leander Paes joined a flash mob at Mumbai Central station, urging men to respect women.
    The presence of women in places like Gateway and Juhu also dropped. The police said they had done everything in their capacity to fortify the venues, including creating separate enclosures, providing visible policing and videography. But the ghost of the Delhi gangrape has also refreshed memories of the Juhu molestation some years ago, prompting women to opt for house parties instead.
Hotels, bars and restaurants made valet services available. Guards helped guests arrange for drivers and vehicles before they left. The move was aimed at preventing anyone from driving drunk
    Bartenders, bouncers and other staff members of
hotels and bars kept a lookout for troublemakers and ensured that no reveller drank too much
Big hotels and bars checked every guest and monitored the entry and exit points & parking lots
Employees and guests were advised to dial police and fi re helplines 100 and 101 in case of emergency 
    Nakabandis were set up in central Mumbai, particularly on Worli Seaface and N M Joshi Marg besides in Dadar, Sion and Matunga
    In the western suburbs, cops’ focus was on the 5-star hotel districts of Powai, MIDC and Sahar
    In the eastern suburbs, hotels and malls were checked
    2 batches with 100 commandos each, along with 150 women constables, guarded hotspots in
the eastern suburbs
    In south Mumbai, 6,000 police personnel and 550 home guards were deployed. 200 female cops were stationed at Chowpatty
    8 combat teams roamed SoBo; as many police videographers documented public parties
    Different entry and exit points were devised for women, families and stags at Gateway, Chowpatty
    At Gateway, 10 police CCTV cameras
were put up besides 100 private ones by Taj. Chowpatty had 32 CCTV cameras
Visible patrolling began by 8.30pm
Malls and hotels were asked to hire extra guards
Anti-sexual har
assment squads tied up with traffi c cops to nab molesters and drunk drivers
Police kept watch on the amount of liquor sold 

Graphic inputs by V Narayan, Mateen Hafeez, Chittaranjan Tembhekar
    To ensure that any casualty can be attended to swiftly, public hospitals allocated beds and put resident doctors on duty for the New Year’s Eve. “In order to tackle emergency cases, we have allocated 30 beds and kept 15 resident medical officers on call so that immediate treatment can be offered,” said KEM Hospital dean Dr Sandhya Kamat. “Similar arrangements were made in the 16 periphery hospitals in the suburbs as well.”
Pratibha Masand
 Aprivate company has secured permission to shower flowers upon Siddhivinayak temple from a helicopter on January 1, when the festival of Angariki Chaturthi is also being observed; it has fallen on the first day of the new year after 95 years. The shower is expected to take place between 11am and 1pm. Angarki Chaturthi is dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesh with several Maharashtrians opting to fast this day. _ Sanjeev Shivadekar

Devotees at Siddhivinayak 
The Times of India, January 1, 2014

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