Indore sari walkathon: Women made to wait for hours; Sumitra Mahajan writes to DM

Authorities locked gates when women tried to walk out of the venue

Sumitra Mahajan bows out ‘emotionally’, says won't contest LS poll [File] Sumitra Mahajan | Josekutty Panackal

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has written to the district magistrate of Indore, demanding answers about a sari walkathon organised on International Women’s Day on March 8, wherein participants were allegedly made to wait for hours and the gates of the stadium locked when they tried to leave. 

The walkathon was organised to showcase the beauty of the sari and to raise awareness about cleanliness. 

For the programme held at Nehru Stadium, the women had been asked to arrive at 3 pm when Chief Minister Mohan Yadav was to join them. However, as Yadav did not make an appearance till past 7 pm, the women started getting restless and began to walk out of the stadium. Perturbed at the prospect of having an empty stadium, the district administration instructed that the gates be locked. Some women then tried to break open the locks of the gates. 

The event was deemed a huge success by the local media. However, when reports of this mismanagement trickled out, Mahajan, who is locally known as ‘tai’ (Aunty), dashed off a letter to Indore’s district magistrate, Asheesh Singh demanding answers. Her specific questions, in the letter sent today, were: is the news of women being made to stay back forcibly right; who were the organisers of the programme; who bore the expenses for it; how many women participated in the programme; why were the women forcibly stopped from leaving; and who was responsible for the management of the programme. 

Congress leader Jitendra Patwari took to X to first expose the mismanagement. He wrote that there was an atmosphere of fear, restlessness and unease at the stadium. He added that the stadium had been turned into a temporary prison. 

The chief minister reached the stadium around 8 pm for the programme. Though the organisers claimed that some 25,000 women would participate in the event, according to some reports, there were hardly 100 women left by the time the CM arrived. His apology, too, cut no ice with them, especially as many women had come with their infants in tow.

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