Curfew continued in Maharashtra's Sangli and Miraj towns Monday and
several leaders of the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
were detained following communal clashes that erupted over a poster
during Ganesh Utsav festivities last week.
Curfew in the towns of Sangli district, about 400 km from the state
capital Mumbai, was imposed at 2 p.m. Sunday and would remain in
force till 2 p.m. Tuesday with concessions to enable people to stock
essential items, said Sangli Superintendent of Police (SP) Krishna
Monday, Shiv Sena leaders Neelam Gorhe, Diwakar Raote and Parshuram
Upkar were arrested for allegedly flouting 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.
Mumbai, police detained senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde before he
could board a flight to Kolhapur for Sangli and Miraj. BJP
legislators Prakash Shendgle and Madhu Chavan were prevented from
entering Sangli Sunday.
Last Wednesday, Sep 2, the eve of Anant Chaturdashi, the last day of
the 12-day Ganesh Utsav the trouble began in Miraj, which has a
population of 265,000, including around 40,000 from the minority
local organisation, Hindu Sanghatana Ganeshotsav Mandal, had put up
a large arch 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 BJP legislator Prakash Shendgle.
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
"But, as it always happens, some miscreants exploited the situation
to give it a communal twist especially in view of the
recently-concluded Ganesh Utsav festival, the ongoing Ramzan month
and the ensuing assembly elections," Shendgle said.
said he rushed to Miraj that day and was addressing crowds of both
communities from the bonnet of his official jeep when an
unidentified youth also climbed atop the vehicle and tried to shout
Suddenly, there was a hail of stones from different directions,
prompting police to start caning the protesters. Some of the stones
are also said to have landed at the Ganesh idol, leading to
This was followed by violent clashes between members of the two
communities that afternoon in which the poster depicting Chhatrapati
Shivaji and Afzal Khan was ripped off by some unknown persons.
About 300 people from both communities have been arrested.