No incidents of violence were reported from Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara on Wednesday as efforts to re-establish peace in riot-torn areas gathered further steam.
Home Minister Jayant Patil, Revenue Minister Patangrao Kadam and Minister for Agriculture Marketing Harshvardhan Patil held a meeting with representatives of Ganesh mandals who had stopped immersion of idols to protest removal of a cutout showing Shivaji killing Afzal Khan.
The meeting was attended by Sangli Collector Shyam Vardhane and state police chief S.S. Virk. Under the formula for peace that has been worked out, the mandals will immerse the idols on Thursday.
For the last five days, parts of Sangli and Kolhapur had witnessed communal clashes, and curfew had been clamped in several areas.
Curfew was relaxed in both Sangli and Miraj between 10 am and 1 pm on Wednesday. Vardhane said curfew will stay till further orders. “It will be lifted in Miraj during the period of procession,” he said. Two companies of the Rapid Action Force have already been deployed in Sangli and Miraj.
The situation in neighbouring Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district, which witnessed a series of violent incidents, was normal on Wednesday. Curfew here was relaxed between 10 am and 11.30 am, but the hours were curtained after people started gathering at various places.
Meanwhile in Mumbai, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) vehemently opposed the state government’s decision to proceed with immersions at Miraj. VHP leader Ashok Singhal said, “Those accused of desecrating Ganesh idols should be punished. The state government cannot delay the issue saying they will look into the matter after immersions.”
A 10-member delegation of Muslim leaders led by president of Jamiat Ulema-i-Maharashtra Hafiz Mohammed Nadim Siddiqui met Governor S.C. Jamir. They demanded suspension of the district magistrate and police commissioner of Sangli and Kolhapur districts and an inquiry into the violence.