The issue of women’s safety at Ganesh mandals during the upcoming festival has triggered a war of words between the Mumbai Police Commissioner and the Shiv Sena.

On Saturday, Commissioner Satyapal Singh said Ganesh mandals would be banned from organising the event next year if any woman was molested on its premises.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray shot back on Sunday: “If Ganesh mandals have to protect the women devotees, then why is there a need for police?” Following the recent gang-rape of a photojournalist, the police have been organising regular meetings with representative bodies of public Ganesh mandals to ensure safety of women devotees.

“It is the responsibility of the organisers to ensure that female devotees, who flock to take blessings of Ganesha, are not eve-teased or molested. If any such incident occurs, it would go against the organisers,” Mr. Singh said on Saturday.

‘Autocratic order’

The Sena said the diktat, which even the British would not have dared to issue, was extremely foolish and autocratic.

“The Shiv Sena has been taking the responsibility of protecting women and will continue to do so if the police are unable to help,” he said.