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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Sainiks stay put, Army seeks cooperation

Vaishnavi Vasudevan and Presley Thomas, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 12, 2012
First Published: 01:05 IST(12/12/2012) | Last Updated: 01:06 IST(12/12/2012)

Shiv Sena workers guarding Bal Thackeray’s makeshift memorial at Shivaji Park are determined to stay put even as the Indian Army takes over the ground on Wednesday for its Vijay Diwas celebrations, to be held on December 15 and 16.

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The Army has appealed the Sainiks to cooperate and has assured them they would not interfere in the party’s business. The Shivaji Park police on Sunday gave the Army permission to conduct its annual ‘Know your Army’ festival on thee ground.

On Tuesday morning, more than 2,000 Sainiks gathered on the ground to guard the makeshift memorial, which has been built without permission and which the civic body has asked the party to remove.

Of the total supporters, more than 1000 were women, who sat singing prayers at the samadhi.

Shiv Sainiks, too, said they would disturb the Army event.

“The Army can do whatever it wishes on the rest of the ground, but we won’t allow them to touch the samadhi,” said Deepak Jadhav, a party worker from Virar.

Narendra Vispute, the defence spokesperson in Mumbai, dismissed reports in a section of the vernacular media that the Army would interfere with the Sena’s activity.

“Ideally, the Army would have liked to have the entire area for its stalls, but if political activists don’t want vacate the land, the Army will not interfere,” Vispute said.

The annual fair sees thousands of visitors every year.

Army sources said a separate enclosure would be made to ensure that the political activists don’t disrupt the event.

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