Miraj police intervene, immerse Ganpati idols
spreads in western Maharashtra
Mohsin Mulla &
Baljeet Parmar. Sangli. Mumbai
The police had to
play a direct role in the immersion of four Ganesha idols in
communally-charged Miraj, even as tension spread to neighbouring areas
on Sunday. The immersions had been postponed after a stand-off over a
welcome arch put up by the Sangli district head of the Shiv Sena,
depicting Afzal Khan being vanquished by Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Last Wednesday, a group pelted the banner with stones, forcing the
district administration to remove it. But a day later, 60 Ganesh
mandals demanded the banner be reinstalled and refused to immerse the
idols until their demand was met.
But the Miraj police served notices on the Ganesh mandals, including
four prominent ones, to complete the immersions within a stipulated
time. While several organisers took smaller idols home, four big idols
remained at the pandals near main roads, Maharashtra director-general
of police SS Virk told DNA. These idols were then taken to the
immersion spots by the police, who were accompanied by a priest.
Virk, who is camping in the district along with additional
director-general of police PP Shrivastav, also said five companies of
the state reserve police force and 200 armed policemen from adjoining
districts have been deployed in sensitive areas of Sangli.
While Miraj is under curfew till Monday morning, there were reports
that communal tension also spread to Kolhapur. Sangli has been under a
24-hour curfew imposed at 2pm on Sunday.
Bandh in Kolhapur
A bandh was called by the Shiv Sena and other organisations to condemn
the violence in Miraj and demand reinstallation of the arch. While
markets remained close, public transport was halted at several places.
The Kolhapur Municipal Transport suspended its service after
stone-pelting on 10 buses. Cases of stone pelting were reported from
several parts of the district. The police have arrested 150 activists
demonstrating at the Shivaji Chowk area. An MSRTC bus was set on fire
in Ichalkaranji town on Saturday night.