The Chembur Police on Tuesday booked Swapnil Phatarpekar, son of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction) MLA Prakash Phatarpekar, under the charges of wrongful restraint and voluntarily causing hurt to singer Sonu Nigam, who was manhandled while his teammates were allegedly pushed from the staircase of the stage where the singer was performing on Monday night. According to the police, the accused wanted to click a selfie with Nigam which was the cause of the entire scuffle.
Nigam was performing live at Chembur Gymkhana on 16th road as part of Chembur Festival organised by the MLA, his daughter Suprada, who is an ex-corporator, Swapnil and others. The concert was open to the public, because of which a huge crowd gathered at the Gymkhana. When it got over around 11 pm when Sonu with his bodyguards in tow, were alighting from the stage Swapnil, accompanied by some Shiv Sainiks, Swapnil approached him for a selfie. The singer was in no mood to oblige and he moved on when he was stopped by someone from behind. This alerted the guards who tried to protect the artiste. At this point the Sainiks accompanying Swapnil allegedly pushed shoved Sonu around and also pushed the aides following which one of them, Rabbani Khan, fell down from the stage. Before a free for all could ensue, Sonu's guards escorted him out of the venue and took him to Chembur police station where he lodged an FIR against Swapnil and others.
Talking about the incident, Suprada Phatarpekar tweeted saying, “My brother wanted to click a selfie with Sonu Nigam and when he was doing so, there was a dispute between him and Nigam’s bodyguard. It was just a fan moment gone wrong. We later apologized to the singer as well.”
The Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA) condemned the incident. The CEO of ISRA, Sanjay Tandon said, “All singers of the country are in shock and are concerned about this. We request the Maharashtra government and law enforcement agencies to take serious note of the matter, and try to ensure that such incidents are not repeated with any singer/artiste whatsoever.”
Sonu said “I filed a complaint so that people should think about the consequences when they try to get a selfie or pictures forcefully.”
The police, who are currently investigating the matter, said they are yet to make an arrest in the case. “Currently, the investigation is underway, we are checking on all the pieces of evidence collected from the spot and cross-questioning the ones involved,” said a senior official. Meanwhile, the Chembur Festival has come in from strong criticism from locals who say that it disrupted life in the suburb for several days. Hundreds of food and garment stalls are erected on pavements of MDS Marg and there is no health department check on the hygiene at the food counters. The festival organised ostensibly to raise funds for local area improvement. The festival, which is an annual feature, is funded by local builders. Suprapada did not respond to questions about the amount of money collected in the past years, the expenses involved or the charitable activities conducted by the Association. "There are so many burning issues like illegal hawkers and rampant unauthorised construction in Chembur about which the MLA has done zilch," said a local resident.