Pune bandh: 8 buses damaged in protests over statue removal

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Pune:  A bandh called by the Shiv Sena in Pune to protest against the removal of the statue of Dadoji Konddev, considered the 'guru' of Chhatrapati Shivaji, began on a violent note on Tuesday with agitators pelting stones at buses and leaving eight of them damaged. Some Sena workers were also detained by the police as a preventive measure.

The Opposition - in particular the Shiv Sena - had given a call for the bandh after the NCP-Congress ruled Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) removed the statue of Dadoji from the Lal Mahal in Pune on Monday, pursuant to a resolution passed by the civic body to that effect.

The agitators also tried to disrupt rail traffic at Lonavala on Mumbai-Pune section of the central railway, sources said. The Sinhgad Express, which runs from Pune to Mumbai, was stopped for a while at Lonavala.

Lal Mahal, in the heart of Pune, was the childhood home of Chhatrapati Shivaji and currently has statues of a young Shivaji and his mother, Jijabai. The municipal corporation plans to add a statue of Shivaji's father, Shahaji Maharaj, to replace the one that was removed on Monday.   

The statue had become a bone of contention following persistent demand by pro-Maratha outfit 'Sambhaji Brigade' opposing its presence at the Lal Mahal, along with sculptures of Jijabai and a young Shivaji . The Maratha community believes that a section of historians have misrepresented Dadoji Konddev as Shivaji's teacher.

Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray said on Monday it was "unfortunate" that the Pune Municipal Corporation removed the statue of Dadoji Konddev if it were the statue of a "terrorist".

Uddhav's estranged cousin, Raj Thackeray, also voiced the objections of his party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).  

"What reason will you give when you are asked why the statue of Dadoji Konddev was removed? What was the harm if Shahaji's statue was installed along with Dadoji and Shivaji?" asked Raj.  He also accused the Congress-NCP alliance of "playing caste politics" by relocating the statue.

"According to history, Dadoji Konddev entered Shivaji's life when he was seven years old," Raj said, threatening that his party will consider launching a massive agitation over the issue. (With PTI Inputs)



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