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No Govindas below 14, rules child rights panel

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 - 6:15am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Children below 14 cannot take part in human pyramids during dahi handi celebrations.

The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) has called for a ban. The government will, however, take a final call on the matter.

The MSCPCR came to the conclusion based on a crime branch report that suggested banning kids from taking part in human pyramids.

The police on Tuesday recommended that strict action be taken against mandals, which use children in human pyramids. "Since the police report suggests that minors should not be included in dahi handi festivities, we decided to ban children under 14 from participating in the pyramids," Ujjwal Ukey, chairperson, MSCPCR, said. "We will soon pass an order."

Though no accidents involving kids between four and 10 have been reported, the police felt they should be banned. "Today, dahi handi poses a risk to the lives of young children. Several mandals use small children to add more layers to human pyramids for commercial reasons," Ukey said.

The Guinness record to date in Mumbai is a nine-tier human pyramid (43.79ft).

The commission gave its ruling based on a complaint by a Saki Naka resident, Pawan Pathak, who demanded that children between four and 10 should not be allowed to participate in human pyramids because of the life threat involved. "Very young children are made to climb up the pyramids that can be as high as nine tiers. Often, children who break the handis don't get any money. Other members spend the prize money on alcohol or political parties take it," Pathak said.

Mandals in the city, however, disagreed. "The decision is completely wrong. It is only an attempt to destroy the spirit of the festival," Bala Padelkar of Shree Dutt dahi handi mandal in Tadwadi, Mazgaon, said.

"Till now, there have been no accidents involving small children. We see to it that they are well protected and do not hurt themselves. Now, we use helmets and harnesses as well." He said mandals unanimously decided not to use children below seven.

Kamlesh Bhoir of young Umarkhadi dahi handi mandal said chances of accidents are minimum because all mandals practise for more than two months. "When we visited Spain, we saw young children were at the top of human pyramids. So, it is not that children elsewhere in the world are not part of such pyramids."


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