A 14-year-old boy is battling for his life at KEM hospital after injuring his head during a Dahi Handi practice in Chinchpokli even as the state government plans to move a review petition on Thursday against the Bombay high court order banning under-18 children from participating in human pyramids.
Another 35-year-old Currey Road resident is lying in KEM in a quadriplegic state with doctors confirming that he may not be able to move his body for the rest of his life.
Both suffered injuries while forming human pyramids.
The boy, Adarsh Vane, has been referred to the nuerosurgery department, Dr Pravin Bangar, chief medical officer, KEM hospital, said. "He was brought in a semi-conscious state."
Raju Baikar, who is paralysed, was brought to the hospital on August 6. "He is now out of danger but there is little hope that he will be able to move his legs and arms for the rest of his life," Dr Pradeep Bhosale, head of KEM's orthopaedic department, said. Baikar has three chidlren aged 7, 5 and 4.
Apart from Vane and Baikar, four women are admitted in KEM. They too injured themselves while practising for dahi handi. But they are stable, doctors said. A 20-year-old boy with head injuries is admitted in KEM. But he is stable and conscious.
Meanwhile, the government and oppposition parties, with an eye on the October assembly polls, have jumped in the fray.
The Shiv Sena, in an attempt to live up to its reputation as a protector of Hindu interests, charged that restrictions were sought to be placed only on Hindu festivals while turning a blind eye to undesirable practices in other religions. But the Sena tried to play both sides by lamenting the crass commercialisation of the festival marking Lord Krishna's birth and politicians trying to display their wealth by announcing mega prizes for govinda troupes who break the coveted pot of curds to pocket hefty prizes, risking their lives and limb in the process. Children are made to climb the upper tiers as they are lighter.
"We are seeking more time. The state government will file a review petition tomorrow (Thursday) as it will take time to change the rules," chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, said.
Chavan's deputy RR Patil said: "I request all to avoid asking minors to climb on to upper tiers where there is maximum risk."
"Though the Bombay high court has shown welcome firmness... it will be welcome if the same firmness is shown even when it comes to loudspeakers in masjids," said an editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, which is edited by party president Uddhav Thackeray and has Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut as the executive editor. It charged that despite a previous court order on loudspeakers in masjids, the government machinery did not take a strong stance in implementing it.
It however rued that the dahi handi festival was getting a corporate and 'bazaru' form which led to mandals competing for towering human tiers. "This competition fuels political battles. Many child govindas lose their lives. Many are rendered permanently disabled after collapsing from the last tier," the editorial said.