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Violence in Maharashtra's Kolhapur over posts on Tipu Sultan, internet suspended

ByNadeem Inamdar
Jun 08, 2023 05:07 AM IST

According to the police authorities, six persons have been detained for questioning in connection with the status post.

Tensions erupted in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur following protests at Shivaji Chowk on Wednesday over an alleged objectionable social media status involving 18th century Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan.

Members of the Hindu organisations stage a protest demanding strict action against persons accused of posting objectionable status on social media, at Chhatrapati Shivaji Chowk, in Kolhapur on Wednesday . (Anil Velhal)

Read here: Violence in Kolhapur over Whatsapp messages ‘glorifying’ Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan

According to the police authorities, six persons have been detained for questioning in connection with the status post.

Some organisations had called for “Kolhapur bandh” in protest against locals who allegedly used Tipu’s image with an objectionable “audio” message on their social media profiles. Locals had put up posts supporting Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

Some right-wing activists gathered at the Shivaji Chowk to register protest. According to the police, the crowd had dispersed after the demonstration ended. However, some miscreants pelted stones at them, said police officials.

Police had to use force to disperse the violent crowd. The district administration has banned internet service for two days as a precautionary step, besides issuing prohibitory orders till June 19.

Mahendra Pandit, Kolhapur superintendent of police, said, “Some organisations called for a Kolhapur bandh on Wednesday and their members gathered at Shivaji Chowk. However, the meet turned violent as miscreants started pelting stones, which compelled us to use force to disperse them.

Read here: Kolhapur violence: Six persons held for WhatsApp status on Tipu Sultan

We told the agitators that action will be taken against the accused for the objectionable post and asked them to maintain peace. Our officials had to lathicharge and used tear gas after the mob hurled stones at houses and damaged vehicles. The police are now in the process of detaining the accused and further investigation is underway.”

According to the police, the three boys who had put up the objectionable status on WhatsApp are juvenile. Visuals on the social media showed groups of people gathering on the streets after which the district administration declared curfew in the city. Meanwhile, a SRPF (State Reserve Police Police) platoon has been stationed and additional reinforcements have been sought from neighbouring districts.

On June 6, right-wing organisations protested against the status message and gathered at Dasara Chowk and Siddharthnagar where stones were pelted at some business establishments.

The irate protestors even ransacked some shops in Laxmipuri area and CPR chowk and vandalised handcarts. The police lathicharged the crowds which left them angered. A call for Kolhapur bandh was given on June 7 and protesters gathered at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Chowk at 9 am and demanded immediate action against the anti-social elements who had uploaded the controversial status message on Tuesday. Violent mobs carried out stone pelting at three places and two of the accused were taken into custody the same evening, police said.

“Two FIRs were lodged in WhatsApp status case, but if people take law and order into their hands then strict action will be taken against them. We appealed to the protestors that action had already been taken and ended the protest. The organisers also told the protestors to abide by our appeal. But despite the appeal, some miscreants targeted houses of communities just like they did yesterday in mixed community neighbourhoods. We dispersed the crowd and those who resorted to vandalism will not be spared. Prohibitory orders have been issued,” Pandit said.

Read here: Kolhapur violence sparks political blame game

Rahul Rekhawar, Kolhapur collector, said, “Internet services have been suspended for two days (Wednesday and Thursday) as a precautionary measure. We appeal to people to maintain calm and urge them not to believe in rumours. Additional forces have been sought and we reiterate to the citizens to resolve the issue through dialogue.”

“It’s the government’s responsibility to maintain law and order in the state. I also appeal to the public for peace and calm. Police investigation is underway and action will be taken against those found guilty,” said chief minister Eknath Shinde on the Kolhapur incident.

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