Youth Forced To Jump to Death at Queer Party: What Happened at Pune Restobar?
The brawl allegedly started when the owner of the restrobar asked a transgender person to dance on the bar table.
The Quint DAILY
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(Trigger Warning: Description of homophobia. Reader discretion advised.)
At about 10:30 pm on Sunday, 24 July, Abhay Gondane and his friend Mannat Shaikh went to 'The Bar Heist' in Pune's Wakad area, to attend a party organised by Mist LGBT Foundation, a city-based organisation that aims to 'empower' LGBTQIA community.
In the next four hours, 21-year-old Gondane, known among his friends as Shrey, died after jumping from the second floor of the building as he tried to escape the bar's bouncers who were allegedly assaulting his friend and him.
The Wakad Police have registered a case under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 143 (whoever is a member of an unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the owner and bouncers of the restobar.
The police have so far arrested five people in connection with the incident – owner of the restobar Anurag Gole (29), manager Gajanan Kharat (33), bouncers Ashutosh Sanjay (31) and Robule Awal (21), and DJ Ganesh Daga (27). No action has been taken against the organisers – Mist LGBT Foundation – yet.
"Members of the community do not feel safe everywhere. That is the reason we go to parties organised by members of the community, thinking it will be a safe space for us. No one even picked the phone to call the cops or the ambulance. If that was done, today Shrey would have been with me," 24-year-old Shaikh, who identifies as a trans woman, told The Quint.
What Happened at 'The Bar Heist'?
According to Shaikh, the brawl allegedly started when the owner of the restobar Anurag Gole asked her to dance on the bar table.
"The owner seemed to have a problem with transgender persons. He was mocking me, and when he asked me to dance on the table, I did it just to teach him a lesson. But his wife asked me to get down, and there was a small altercation. When he did the same again, Shrey asked him to back off. Suddenly, there was uncontrollable chaos. The bouncers started hitting both of us, glasses were broken, and we were hit. Chairs were thrown at us," Shaikh said.
"I saw Shrey running out, before I became unconscious. That was the last time I ever saw him. When I woke up, the bar was almost empty. I thought he must have escaped, imagine my shock when I saw him lying in a pool of bed almost half hour later," Shaikh added.
Speaking to The Quint, two eyewitnesses, who did not want to be named, corroborated the events.
"The bouncers were hitting him with a chair, and he just wanted to escape. When there was no other way, he had to jump to escape but as he hit the ground, he was injured badly. He was lying in a pool of blood. But no one went to help him, not even the organiser. Everyone was planning their exit," an eyewitness told The Quint.
'Not Trying to Hide Anything': MIST Co-Founder
Speaking to The Quint, Shyam, co-founder of Mist LGBT Foundation, said that his organisation is not trying to hide anything, and that they will extend full support to Shaikh.
"I was not at the event that day. From what I have heard, the situation escalated very quickly in light of the back and forth between Shrey and the bar staff. We have a young team – and one of our members had a panic attack due to the chaos. We agree that we did not react immediately like we should have, we are not trying to hide it," Shyam said.
The Quint has reached out The Bar Heist. The article will be updated with their response.
'Found in a Pool of Blood'
When Shaikh went to the ground floor after half an hour, she not only found an unconscious Shrey, she also did not have a phone to make a call.
"I was crying for help. No one came forward, I dragged him out to the road, and a few passer-by saw me, and came forward and called the police. By then, we had lost crucial time," she said, adding that the organisers have not reached out to her, even after the incident blew up.
According to Shrey's friend Raj, the cops first took him to Aditya Birla Hospital, and later to Sassoon General Hospital. While Raj was not at the party, he was one of the first people to reach the hospital after the incident.
"In Sassoon General Hospital, the police told me that they could have saved Shrey if someone had helped and brought him in earlier. I wished I had gone to the party. His last message to me was asking why I was not there. Why has no one from Mist LGBT put out a statement yet? Is it not the organiser's responsibility?" Raj asked.
'Why Is the Full CCTV Footage Not Released'
Shrey was working at a private company in Pune's Vishrantwadi, a close relative told The Quint, adding that his family stays in Nagpur.
"We have two questions. When the brawl broke out, why did no one call the police? Later, when he was wounded, why didn't anyone call the ambulance? Finally, why was the owner Gole's wife, who was equally involved in the brawl, not arrested?" he asked.
The relative has also sought the cops to release CCTV footage from inside the restobar.
Satyawan Mane, a senior police officer at Wakad station, said:
"We reached the spot as soon as we received a call. We are collecting CCTV footage on what happened. But I can confirm that no one came to help the person when he was injured. Further investigation is underway."
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