Curfew On in Sangli, Miraj following Communal Violence

Curfew is still in force in Sangli and Miraj towns of Maharashtra and several leaders of the Shiv Sena and BJP have been kept in custody in the wake of communal violence that erupted over a poster during Ganesh Utsav festivities last week.

Curfew imposed in Sangli district, some 400 km from Mumbai, would remain in force till 2 pm Thursday with concessions to enable people to stock essential items, said Krishna Prakash, SP.

Shiv Sena leaders – Neelam Gorhe, Diwakar Raote and Parshuram Upkar – were arrested on Monday for violating curfew orders. They had rushed from Mumbai to meet members of some Ganesh Utsav mandals in the two towns, about 35 km from each other. The mandals had not immersed the Ganpati idols to protest the disturbances.

Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde was arrested by police in Mumbai before he could board a flight to Kolhapur for Sangli and Miraj. In addition, BJP legislators Prakash Shendgle and Madhu Chavan were prevented from entering Sangli on Sunday.

The trouble began in Miraj on last Wednesday, the even of Anat Chaturdashi, the last day of the 12-day Ganesh Utsav. The town, having a population of 265, 000, has a minority population of 40, 000.

The issue began over a poster installed by a local Hindu Sanghathana Ganeshotsav Mandal depicting Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji killing Mughal leader Afzal Khan.

“This is a historical fact which nobody can challenge, but despite our pleas, the organisers put it up prominently where everybody would take note of it,” said Krishna Prakash.

The organisers allegedly also held a “victory rally” near the arch, depicting all the followers of Chhatrapati Shivaji in saffron and Afzal Khan supporters in green.

Sensing trouble, local police summoned about two dozen important Muslim community leaders and requested them to ignore the developments.

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