FLAGGING REPORTS of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs’ houses and offices being targeted in Maharashtra, Governor B S Koshyari has asked the Centre to keep “adequate” central security forces “ready… to address the situation”.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday granted Y-plus security cover, comprising CRPF personnel, to at least 15 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs. While the MLAs are in a hotel in Assam, sources said security will be provided to their families in Maharashtra.
In his letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, dated June 25, Koshyari said that although he had asked the state police to provide adequate protection to the rebel MLAs, the police remained a “mute spectator” while the offices and homes of these MLAs were vandalised.
“It is accordingly requested that adequate provision of central security forces be made and kept ready, in case required, to address the situation,” he said in his letter.
Koshyari, who had tested positive for Covid-19, was discharged from hospital on Sunday. When contacted, the Raj Bhavan spokesperson declined to comment on Koshyari’s letter.
Koshyari also wrote to Maharashtra Director General of Police Rajnish Seth on June 25, calling for “immediate” protection of the rebel MLAs and their families.
“I have received a representation dated 25th June 2022 from 38 MLAs of Shiv Sena, 2 MLAs of Prahar Jan Shakti party and 7 Independent MLAs stating that the security of their families ‘has been illegally and unlawfully withdrawn’. They have also raised serious concerns about the safety of their homes and families in context of the provocative and threatening statements being made by certain political leaders. Already, offices and homes of some of the MLAs have been vandalised, with the police being a mute spectator,” he said in his letter.
“I therefore direct you to provide police protection to the MLAs, their families and homes on an immediate basis… I may be apprised of the action taken in this regard,” he said.
Copies of the letter were marked to Chief Secretary Manukumar Shrivastava, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) A M Limaye, and Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey.
In a Twitter post on Saturday, rebel group leader Eknath Shinde had alleged that the security of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs had been withdrawn on the orders of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and State Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil. Denying this, Walse-Patil had called Shinde’s allegation “mischievous” and “false”.
On Sunday, Walse-Patil’s office tweeted: “Adequate security has been provided at the office, residence of all MLAs who have gone to Guwahati. At no point was the security withdrawn… The Maharashtra Police is on alert and geared up to deal with any law and order issue which (if at all ) arises. Prohibitory orders are in force in various parts of the State. Anybody trying to disrupt peace will be dealt with as per the law.”
Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey has directed DCPs to meet Shiv Sainiks and ask them to ensure there is no law and order problem in the city.
While Shinde has not been granted Y-plus security, among those in the list are Ramesh Bornare, Mangesh Kudalkar, Sanjay Shirsat, Latabai Sonawane and Prakas Surve.
“The decision has been taken after a threat assessment by the Intelligence Bureau. Only those MLAs who have a genuine threat have been provided protection,” said a home ministry official.
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On Friday, Kudalkar’s office in Mumbai was vandalised. On Saturday, the office of Tanaji Sawant, another rebel MLA, was ransacked in Pune.
Addressing Yuva Sena workers on Sunday, Yuva Sena president and minister Aaditya Thackeray criticised the central government for providing CRPF security to rebel MLAs. “We have been demanding CRPF security for Kashmiri Pandits, but it was not given… these rebel MLAs are being given security,” he said.
Meanwhile, a senior IPS officer said the security cover provided by the state to the MLAs had not been removed.
Sources said additional central security personnel have been sent to their base in Taloja, Navi Mumbai. The Railway Protection Force and Railway Protection Special Force have also been kept on alert, said sources.
– With ENS, New Delhi