After a gathering by Hindu organisations on Wednesday took an ugly turn, internet services were suspended and a tense calm prevailed in Kolhapur.
The event was called by right-wing Hindu parties in opposition to several social media posts that they said exalted Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. However, when the demonstration was over, some miscreants started throwing rocks at Muslim-owned homes and businesses as well as attacking their vehicles. The unruly mob had to be scattered by the police using lathi charges.
To get the situation under control, the State Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force were brought in. To preserve peace in the district, prohibition orders prohibiting gatherings of five or more people have been issued until June 19.
Six people, including three minors, had been imprisoned for spreading the message as of the time of going to press.
Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister and state home minister, supported the aggression of the Hindutva groups even as he made an appeal for the preservation of peace. If Aurangzeb is exalted, there will undoubtedly be a backlash, he said. “We won’t stand for it. This is the Maharashtra of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Fadnavis further accused the opposition of conspiring, claiming that the “glorification” began with one particular community after opposition leaders alleged that the ruling parties were attempting to incite unrest among different communities. “It is not a coincidence,” he declared. “The government will investigate everything.”
Mahendra Pandit, the superintendent of police for Kolhapur, told reporters that he had informed the Hindutva groups that two FIRs had already been filed in the case involving the social media posts. He stated, “We called to the protestors to so terminate the protest.
“That’s what the organisers also told them. However, some miscreants deliberately targeted homes belonging to a single community in mixed-community neighbourhoods. After that, we used force to scatter the masses. The vandals are being identified, and they will not escape punishment. The violence was “completely against the culture and history of Kolhapur,” Pandit continued.
The SP also revealed to reporters that he had held a meeting on Tuesday night to convince the Hindutva organisations to refrain from staging any protests. I think this was done, he remarked, referring to people who were determined about holding the protest. “At first glance, it appears they were responsible for the attack.”
In the meantime, the opposition is furious. Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, who had before claimed that the state’s ruling parties were fomenting communal unrest, said it was unnecessary to give the adulation of a Mughal king a religious overtone, even if it were incorrect. “The ruling parties are encouraging such activities,” he said. “It is the government’s responsibility to maintain law and order, but if ruling parties and their supporters start spilling out on the streets to create animosity among two communities, it is not a good sign.”
The Shinde-Fadnavis administration received harsh criticism for the violence in Kolhapur from the Shiv Sena’s Thackeray wing as well. Anil Parab, an MLC, told the media, “This government’s failure to maintain law and order is affecting Maharashtra’s economy.” “Investors are reluctant to visit a volatile state. Peace is essential for the development of industry.
Home minister Fadnavis, according to state Congress leader Nana Patole, no longer has authority over his agency and the police, and should be replaced by a capable individual. “The Shinde-Fadnavis government has completely failed to maintain law and order,” he declared. “How is it that fanatic elements have become so active only after Fadnavis took over as home minister? After attempts to trigger riots in the state failed last month, they are trying to stir up unrest by raising the issue of Aurangzeb.”