Kolhapur stone pelting
In response to a protest regarding the alleged use of Tipu Sultan's image, police in Maharashtra's Kolhapur resorted to a lathi charge to disperse a crowd that was pelting stones I Photo: PTI

Tension grips Kolhapur after poster, social media post on Tipu Sutlan

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The police in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, resorted to lathi charge on Wednesday (June 7) to disperse a crowd which was pelting stones during a protest.

The demonstration was in response to the alleged use of Tipu Sultan’s image, along with an objectionable audio message, as a social media status by a few local individuals.

A proposal to suspend internet services from Wednesday afternoon till Thursday evening, or depending on the situation, has been sent to authorities, a senior police official said.

While personnel from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been deployed in the city, police have sought more cops from Satara, he said.

Prohibitory orders have been issued till June 19 banning assembly of five or more persons, he said.

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Tension rose in the city on Tuesday after two men allegedly put 18th-century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan’s image along with an offensive audio message as their social media status.

A group of right-wing activists demanded action against both men following which a case was registered against the two persons, said another official. Police registered another first information report (FIR) in the evening and arrested seven persons after more protests were held, the official said.

The protesters again hit the streets on Wednesday.

Some organisations had called for a Kolhapur bandh. After their demonstration ended, the crowd began to disperse but some miscreants started pelting stones, forcing police to use force against these people to disperse them, said Kolhapur Superintendent of Police Mahendra Pandit.

The SP said he informed the demonstrators about the action taken by police in the objectionable post case and appealed to them to maintain calm. He said force and teargas were used only after stones were hurled at houses and vehicles damaged.

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Pandit said police have started tracing and detaining the miscreants.

Kolhapur Collector Rahul Rekhawar said the district is known for its progressive approach. “I appeal to all the people to ensure that the image of Kolhapur as a progressive district remains intact. I urge them not to believe in rumours,” he said.

The collector said the situation is under control and additional police forces have been brought in, even as he requested the public to cooperate with the authorities and resolve issues through dialogue.

Dipak Kesarkar, the guardian minister, said that action had been taken against those who had used Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message.

Religious colour given to small issues: Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar claimed “religious colour” was being given to some small issues in Maharashtra and the ruling parties are encouraging such things, which he said is a cause of concern.

Pawar’s remarks came against the backdrop of some youths displaying photos of 17th Century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in a procession in Ahmednagar and tension prevailing in Kolhapur city on Wednesday over Tipu Sultan’s image.

Asked about the law-and-order situation and some incidents of violence, Pawar claimed “religious colour” was being given to some small issues in the state.

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“The rulers are responsible to establish law and order in the state. If the ruling parties and their people come out on roads over it and create a rift between two religions, then it is not a good sign,” he told reporters in Aurangabad.

“Recently we heard about Ahmednagar. Today, I saw news from Kolhapur. People came out on roads, and giving religious colour to a small incident of sending a message over the phone is not a good sign. The ruling parties are encouraging such things,” Pawar alleged.

The NCP chief said it was wrong to give a religious angle to any message sent from mobile phones.

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“Maintaining the law and order and peace is the responsibility of the government. But if the government itself provokes people and creates social divisions, it is not a good sign,” he said.

Pawar said riot-like incidents had taken place in the last few days in the state.

“But the good thing is that the tension is restricted to the areas concerned. But this is being done deliberately. For example, if someone has shown a photograph of Aurangzeb in Aurangabad, what is the reason to protest in Pune?” he asked.

Pawar also alleged churches are being attacked in Odisha and some other states.

“Christians are a peaceful community. The guilty should be punished but instead, churches are being attacked. An individual cannot do this. But a specific ideology is at work which is not good for the society,” he added.

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Earlier in the day, Maharashtra DY CM Devendra Fadnavis had wondered whether there is a link between political statements given by some leaders on riot-like situations and the display of Aurangzeb’s photos.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has appealed for peace.

(With agency inputs)

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