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The BJP will conduct a Shok Sabha — a condolence meeting — in Amravati on Monday morning for Umesh Kolhe, 54, who was murdered by seven men allegedly for his posts supporting Nupur Sharma.
BJP leaders including Rajya Sabha MP Anil Bonde had approached the Amravati Police Sunday seeking permission to conduct the Shok Sabha, but the police had denied them the same. The party had told police that at least 2,500 people, including VHP members, were likely to attend the meet.
The BJP announced that it will organise the meet at Rajkamal Chowk in the city at 11 am. Afterwards, BJP leaders informed Kolhe’s son and invited the family to the Shok Sabha.
Kolhe’s younger brother Mahesh told The Indian Express on Sunday, “They never asked for our permission but we do not have any objections. We will be present at the meet and express our thoughts. But I earnestly requested them (BJP and VHP) to keep the Sabha completely peaceful and that there should be no speeches as I want my brother’s soul to rest in peace and do not want a bad name for my family.”
In November last year, the BJP had sought an ‘Amravati Bandh’ in response to a morcha taken out by Muslims in the city over violence against members of the community in Tripura. The morcha resulted in violence after which the BJP had called for a bandh.
The BJP had then organised a meet at Rajkamal Chowk, which led to more violence, property damage and arson. The police had to lathicharge the mob and the city was placed under curfew with internet suspended for five days. Trader associations in the city had said they suffered collective losses worth crores of rupees. Afterwards, many BJP leaders, including Bonde, were arrested.
While speaking about the security arrangements for the Shok Sabha, a police official from Amravati said, “We told them that no one will give any speeches in the Shok Sabha as such events are not meant for speeches but just to express condolences.”
“We have also beefed up the security. We have three companies of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF). The SRPF and local city police strength of around 1,500 personnel will be part of the bandobast. Further, we have placed our personnel in sensitive areas to prevent any law and order issues,” said a senior police officer.
The police have also served notices under Section 149 of the CrPC to people who were allegedly involved in the violence last year, including Bonde, to ensure they do not create any trouble on Monday.
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