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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » Maha govt, Oppn spar over claims of lathi charge on warkaris in Alandi

Maha govt, Oppn spar over claims of lathi charge on warkaris in Alandi

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
June 12, 2023 09:37 IST
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An argument broke out on Sunday between warkaris -- devotees of Lord Vitthal -- and police during a procession in Maharashtra's Pune district but there was no lathicharge, a senior officer said.

IMAGE: A scuffle breaks out between warkaris and the police in Pune's Alandi town in Maharashtra. Photograph: Video grab

Opposition parties, however, claimed police lathicharged warkaris and demanded a high-level probe and strict action.

Citing the "atmosphere of tension and violence prevailing in the state", the Nationalist Congress Party demanded the resignation of Maharashtra home minister Devendra Fadnavis if he cannot handle the law and order.

The incident occurred when devotees were scrambling to gain entry into Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Samadhi Mandir in Alandi town, 22 km from Pune city, during the ceremonial procession which is part of the annual Ashadhi Ekadashi pilgrimage to Pandharpur.

Police had made elaborate arrangements and held meetings with temple trustees to prevent any untoward incident, said Commissioner of Pimpri Chinchwad, Vinay Kumar Choubey.


While the police were sending batches of 75 devotees at a time, a few people breached the barricades and tried to enter the temple, he said.

"There was an altercation when police tried to stop them," Choubey said but refuted allegations that police lathi-charged warkaris.

The issue took a political turn with opposition NCP and Congress claiming that police lathicharged warkaris.

“I condemn the (state) government for the incident of lathi-charge on warkaris. This has never happened in so many years. The pilgrimage (to Pandharpur) has been a tradition for the past few centuries.

“The administration's mismanagement put a blot on this annual celebration. It is anguishing to see the lathi-charge on the warkari community. Those who are at fault should face action,” NCP working president and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule said.

She said warkaris have played the role of the guide (to society) through their simple and easy teachings.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis denied reports of lathicharge on 'warkaris' by police in Alandi town in Pune district.

He said a minor scuffle broke out between warkaris and the police.

"There was no lathicharge on the warkari community," he told reporters in Nagpur.

"We learned from last year's stampede-like situation at the same place (Alandi) and tried giving a few number of the entry pass to various groups. It was decided to issue 75 passes to each group that participates in the pilgrimage," said Fadnavis, who handles the home portfolio.

He said some 400-500 youths insisted that they would participate in the pilgrimage and won't follow the decision on the restricted allotment of entry passes.
"They broke the barricades and the police tried to stop them, during which some police personnel were injured," Fadnavis said.

This decision (of allotting a limited number of entry passes) was taken after a joint meeting with the principal district judge, the charity commissioner and the heads of various groups as part of the preparation for the pilgrimage. It was not a new decision of the police, he added.

The situation has come under control and discussions are going on. I have taken serious cognisance of the incident, but I appeal to the media houses not to blow up the situation through wrong reporting. There is no need to play with the emotions of the people, he said.

"I also appeal to some political parties not to indulge in politics. The safety and security of the warkari community and of the people are important. Police have been instructed to find some solution," he said.

On the opposition's criticism over the incident, Fadnavis said, "We were not in the government last year when a stampede had taken place. We did not indulge in politics, but learned from that incident and tried to make things better. I pity the politicians who try to politicise the issue."

Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole demanded a high-level inquiry and strict action against the guilty.

He said police officials involved in lathicharge should be suspended.

Maharashtra opposition leader Ajit Pawar said the lathicharge incident was painful.

"Such an incident never happened in the history of Pandharpur wari (pilgrimage). This incident could have been avoided by proper planning but it didn't happen. Prima facie, the mismanagement has led to this incident. I condemn the lathicharge by police and the government in strong words," he tweeted.

He said Maharashtra has the glorious tradition of Ashadhi pilgrimage and the departure of the palanquin of Sant Dnyaneshwar for Pandharpur symbolises the glory of the state's spirituality and devotional tradition.

NCP national spokesperson Clyde Crasto described the incident as shameful.

"Since March, an atmosphere of tension and violence prevails in the state. Today warkaris in Alandi have been lathicharged. This is shameful. If Devendra Fadnavis (home minister) cannot run the state, he should resign,' he said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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