A group of men from Mumbai were stripped, heckled and assaulted by a gang of self-styled followers of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for consuming alcohol at Peb fort (Vikatgad) near Karjat, where the youngsters gathered to celebrate new year.
The 11 men, whose identities are being withheld, were stripped to their underwear, made to kneel before the volunteers of Shri Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, confess they were consuming alcohol and weed and sing patriotic chorals.
They were let off only after a night’s torture during which no effort was made to involve the local police. The Neral police station registered an offence against the vigilantes after the video of the assault and intimidation went viral.
Senior Inspector Avinash Patil said an FIR was registered on Thursday against “eight to ten” unknown persons for wrongful restraint.
The right wing Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan is headed by Sambhaji, 87, against whom an FIR in the Koregaoan-Bhima violence case is pending.
On Thursday, one of the victims, admitted that he and his friends were carrying alcohol in their bags, said they were accosted as soon as they entered the fort by a bunch of men sitting by a campfire, according to sources.
The victim said while he and his friends were guilty of carrying booze into a prohibited area, the vigilantes had no right to treat them the way they did.
The police have established contact with some of the vigilantes and their statements are likely to be recorded in the next couple of days. Consuming alcohol in public places is prohibited under the Bombay Prohibition Act 1949’s section 140.
The Vikatgad fort is neither controlled by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) nor the Maharashtra Archaeological Directorate. Thus, only the district collector has supervising authority.