Updated: January 27, 2022 8:02:02 am
Following the inauguration of a refurbished sports complex in Malwani funded by Mumbai Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh, a large number of BJP and Bajrang Dal workers held protests on Wednesday stating that they were opposing the move to “rename” the place after Mysore king Tipu Sultan.
Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aditya Thackeray, however, said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not cleared any proposal to rename the park after Tipu Sultan.
“No renaming has taken place. The BMC has authority over these issues and we can say that no proposal of renaming has been submitted before the BMC,” he said.
Located at Malwani in Malad West, the place is popularly known as the Tipu Sultan Ground.
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Congress leader and state cabinet minister Aslam Shaikh, who also represents the Malwani constituency, had undertaken the refurbishment work and expansion of facilities at the ground through his MLA development fund. With work on the project having been completed, he was scheduled to inaugurate the facility on Wednesday.
The BJP, however, registered its protest, claiming that the event would be held to “rename the ground” after Tipu Sultan.
“We will not allow the ground to be named after a man who is responsible for the deaths of a large number of Hindus,” Maharashtra Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said. He added, “The MVA government has insulted the sentiments of people. The BJP will not tolerate such an act. What is appalling is the manner in which the state government provided police protection to the event. But cops lathicharged BJP and Bajrang Dal workers who were protesting. This is highly condemnable.”
A large number of BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal workers gathered outside the facility to register their protest. The protesters blocked the road and also punctured tyres of two buses.
Two FIRs have been registered at the Malwani police station for “unlawful assembly, rioting, wrongful restraint and violating Covid-19 guidelines” against 64 people from Bajrang Dal and BJP, including Member of Parliament Gopal Shetty, MLA and businessman Mangal Prabhat Lodha, MLA Atul Bhatkalkar and BJP corporators.
A senior police officer said, “They punctured tyres of two BEST buses and blocked the road causing inconvenience to the people on Charkop junction. The protesters were detained. Notices were served on them and then they were allowed to leave. Two FIRs were registered. Nobody was hurt during the protests.”
Mumbai BJP president Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who had taken part in the protests, said, “This is nothing but Muslim appeasement. We have been repeatedly urging the state government to have consideration for the larger public sentiments and disallow naming of a sports complex after Tipu Sultan. Why can’t they think of any other name?”
He further alleged, “This is a ploy to drive away Hindus from Malwani. It has been happening for the last few years. The population of Hindus in the area has been shrinking.”
Meanwhile, Shaikh said that the place is already known as Tipu Sultan Ground and there was no official move to rename it. “It is popularly referred to as Tipu Sultan Ground for many years now. I had only come to inaugurate the new facilities whose work had been commissioned in the past and has been completed now,” he said, further claiming that the BJP was “trying to give the issue a communal colour”.
Shaikh, however, noted that he was not aware of how the name of the park came to be associated with Tipu Sultan. “The BMC has a policy according to which it does not change the names of places which are associated with popular persons. Generally, local residents have named these places at some point,” he said when asked whether the BMC has given its approval to naming the ground after Tipu Sultan.
He added, “Interestingly, a number of BJP corporators in the past have written letters endorsing the naming of places after Tipu Sultan. We are not sure what has changed. Will the BJP ask its leader who endorsed the naming of places after Tipu Sultan to resign now?”
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar also said that BJP corporators had in the past named public places after Tipu Sultan.
Documents shared by Pednekar show that in April, 2001, former BJP corporator Vitthal Kharatmol had moved a motion to name a road from Bhavans College to C D Barfiwala Lane in Andheri West as ‘Sher-e-Mysore Tipu Sultan Marg’. The proposal was cleared in the civic house without any opposition.
Similarly, another motion of naming a road stretch from Bajiprabhu Deshpande Marg to Shivaji Nagar nullah in Govandi as ‘Shaheed Tipu Sultan Marg’ was passed in a corporation meeting in December, 2013. The proposal was supported by the then BJP corporator and now MLA Ameet Satam and it was passed without opposition.
“Why is BJP silent on these now? The party had come forward and supported both proposals in the past. Now, they are trying to defame the Shiv Sea. This is also because they are no longer interested in development,” Pendekar alleged.
Last year, a similar request to name a garden in Govandi, a suburb in Eastern Mumbai, after Tipu Sultan had sparked a controversy, with the BJP opposing the move.
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