Concerned that the civic body would demolish late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s temporary samadhi at Shivaji Park, Sainiks have decided to start guarding the site from Saturday morning.
Till now the spot had been guarded by 10 to 12 Sainiks, but from Saturday, it will be organised bandobast, with hundreds of Sainiks from Thane district arriving at Shivaji Park at 9am. They will work in 12-hour shifts until the row over the memorial is sorted out.
The move comes after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) served notices to senior Sena leaders on Monday, asking them to remove the samadhi as they had no permission for a memorial at Shivaji Park. The notice said the BMC would be forced to raze the structure, if the Sena does not do so.
Considering the volatile nature of the issue, senior Sena leaders are trying to work out a solution that would be agreeable to emotionally-charged Sainiks and the state government.
“There is no question of removing the samadhi altogether. A proposal is being worked upon, where a small strip of garden and a plaque will be put up at a corner of the ground near the site where Balasaheb was cremated. A plot has been identified between the mayor’s bungalow and The Park Club, where we could build a big memorial with a museum, auditorium and library,” a senior Sena leader close to Uddhav said.
Party leaders feel the proposal will not raise a problem as it will not be a hindrance to the players on the ground.
Rahul Shewale, civic standing committee chairman, said they would approach the municipal commissioner once they finalise a proposal. “We will make sure the present structure is retained in some way,” he said.
Prior to this, a similar structure has been allowed at the periphery of Shivaji Park ground in the memory of Meenatai Thackeray, late Sena chief’s wife.