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Sangli Communal Violence

September 8, 2009

Police stop Munde, twice, on his way to Miraj

Kiran Tare & Naveeta Singh

There was high drama at the domestic airport in Santa Cruz on Monday morning. Gopinath Munde, general secretary of the BJP, was stopped from boarding a flight to Kolhapur, en route to the communally tense Miraj, where he was to address a meeting. The police action led to a five-hour dharna by BJP workers outside the airport. The cops had to lathi-charge when the situation threatened to get out of control.

Later, Munde left for Miraj by road, with party colleagues Vinod Tawde and Madhu Chavan. But the cops stopped him again at Amritanjan Ghat near Lonavla, on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. However, as the Pune collector had not issued any detention order, the police allowed Munde to proceed for MIraj. Following the second detention, BJP workers jammed the Expressway.

Earlier, when Munde was heading for security check at the domestic terminal, the police forced Kingfisher Airlines to cancel his boarding pass. "Around 9.15 am, the Kolhapur collector's office called, asking us not to allow Munde to go to Kolhapur," said a senior officer of airport police station.

Brijesh Singh, deputy commissioner of police, said, "Munde was prevented from going to Miraj in the wake of the communal clashes there." The BJP leader trashed allegations that his visit would have fuelled the tension. "I was going there to restore communal harmony. My visit to Miraj was not to disturb the peace, but to maintain the peace," he said.

The Santa Cruz airport police were in the process of registering an FIR against Munde.

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