A group of trekkers from Pune and Mumbai who were holidaying in Lonavala had their new year celebrations marred by a band of self-proclaimed 'bhakts' of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the 17th-century Maratha warrior king who is often appropriated for political ends in Maharashtra.
According to a report in the Mid-Day, the trippers were manhandled, abused, stripped and beaten up by around 15 self-proclaimed bhakts, that included 6 women. They were also made to hold saffron flags and chant "Jai Shivaji, Jai Bhavani" and other slogans.
Over 40 families were camping at the Visapur Fort in Lonavala over the new years weekend. While the revelers were enjoying themselves around a campfire, a group of people armed with bamboo sticks approached them and began abusing them.
Recounting the incident, a woman who was at the camp with her husband and friends, told Mid Day, "They thought we were drunk and had taken drugs. When we told them that we were married couples, they asked us to show our mangalsutras and abused us for not wearing bindis."
Then, the boys among the 'bhakts' made the men take off their clothes and poured soft drinks on them.
Apparently, a five-year-old boy was beaten up too and went into shock after seeing his parents being thrashed and slapped.
The incident came into light after one of the campers, a fitness trainer from Pune, approached the Lonavala police and filed a complaint against the gang.
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