The police have ruled out any clashes arising between Shiv Sainiks guarding Bal Thackeray’s makeshift memorial and the army hosting a ‘Know Your Army’ festival on December 15 and 16 at the Shivaji Park grounds. The Shivaji Park police gave the army all permissions for the fair on Sunday.
The Bombay high court gave the army permission in September to hold the festival after it failed to get it from the civic body because of ongoing litigations on Shivaji Park.
The fair, which will have stalls and exhibits, is meant to create awareness about the army among citizens. It is held every year at different locations across the country. The army will take over the ground on December 12 and thousands of visitors are expected for the fair.
The Shiv Sena has taken over a 30 feet X 30 feet portion at the west end of 1,12,937 square meters Shivaji Park ground, where the Sena chief was cremated on December 18.
Senior inspector of Shivaji Park police Suresh Unawne said, “We have given permissions for the event. If the portion is vacated by then, it will be good. However, even if that does not happen, it will not interfere much with the army event.” Unawne added that the army had sent a letter for the event.
The BMC, which had dashed off notices to senior Sena leaders threatening removal of the memorial, also seems to be on a backfoot. “The court had granted the army the permission to hold the festival. Hence, if the army is unable to hold the festival for some reason and decide to approach the court, then the court might offer a solution,” said a BMC official who did not want to be named.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut ruled out any interference. “Our memorial stands at one corner and won’t disturb any army programme,” Raut said.