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Pratapgarh: Nearly 500 VHP workers detained
September 12, 2004 19:44 IST
Nearly 500 Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists were on Sunday detained and 13 vehicles seized in view of the outfit's threat to raze the tomb of a 17th century Mughal general, Afzal Khan, near Pratapgarh Fort in Satara district.
The activists were proceeding to Pratapgarh from various parts of Maharashtra. Police sources said the situation was 'under control'.
Heavy security was being maintained in and around the fort and unlawful assembly had been banned under section 144 of the IPC in the area in view of the VHP's rally at nearby Pachwad.
While some people were detained at the site, others were held in Bhiwandi in Thane district, Mahad and Pali in Raigad district and in the neighbouring state of Goa.
VHP Maharashtra unit secretary Vyankatesh Abdeo told PTI over telephone from Pachwad that despite police 'suppressing' their agitation, nearly 10,000 VHP workers have managed to reach the site and has resorted to a 'peaceful road blockade'. He claimed that police had detained nearly 10,000 VHP activists. However, authorities did not confirm this figure.
VHP and like-minded organisations have threatened to demolish the structure accusing that beautification of the tomb was nothing but 'glorification' of Afzal Khan.
The general had come to Pratapgarh Fort to hold peace talks with Chhatrapati Shivaji, revered in the state. However, the latter eventually killed him during a meeting at the foothills of the fort. Shivaji had later got the tomb built at the site of their encounter.
The VHP had earlier threatened to demolish the tomb on September 12 if the Maharashtra government failed to do so by August 31 after the Charity Commissioner cancelled the lease to the Hazrat Mohammed Afzal Khan Memorial Society, which manages the tomb.The Bombay high court had on September 7 directed that status quo be maintained and issued notices to the Union government, the Maharashtra government and the Satara district collector over their alleged apathy towards a historical monument and the adjoining land where illegal constructions have allegedly cropped up.
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