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Sangli Communal Violence

The Indian Express
September 8, 2009

Immersion clash in Sangli takes political turn after airport drama Munde stopped from flying to riot zone, agitates, detained  


BJP general secretary Gopinath Munde was detained at Mumbai airport on Monday and prevented from flying to Kolhapur, from where he would have travelled to the communally tense towns of Miraj and Sangli. This sparked a protest by his supporters at the airport, leading to a lathicharge by the police.

The former Deputy Chief Minister later decided to travel by road instead.

Mumbai airport officials said he had taken a boarding pass for Kingfisher Airlines' flight IT 4113 to Kolhapur at 10.05 am. However, citing the communal trouble in Miraj and Sangli and prohibitory orders by local authorities in Kolhapur, police officials prevented him from boarding the flight.

"Munde started protesting at the terminal, saying he had a right to fly anyhad a right to fly anywhere in the country," said an airport official. Munde was soon joined by thousands of supporters.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya threatened to disrupt airport activities if Munde was not allowed to fly.

"The protesters tried to barge in through the departure gate 1, which had to be closed for about two to five minutes.
Passengers had to use the other departure gate," said a spokesperson for the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).

In the police lathicharge, two BJP workers were seriously injured. One of them, Deepak Patil, was admitted to Jaslok Hospital. "Those found rioting have been charged.
They tried to stop taxis from entering the terminal, threatened other passengers and blocked access to the airport,"
said the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VIII).

The collector's office in Kolhapur had issued prohibitory orders against Munde after learning that he was on his way to Miraj. A copy of the order was sent to the Worli police, who was supposed to serve the order to Munde as he lives there. But he got the order only at the airport. A similar order was also given through the Airport Police to Kingfisher Airlines.

Kingfisher Airlines did not comment on the incident.

On Sunday, BJP MLCs Prakash Shandge and Madhu Chavan had been detained at Kolhapur and sent back to Mumbai.


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