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Sena activists continue to lay siege to site at Shivaji Park.

Mumbai:

In what is proving to be a difficult task for the law enforcers, the Shiv Sena activists are continuing to lay siege to the site at the Shivaji Park in north-central Mumbai where Sena chief Bal Thackeray was cremated on November 18, despite the authorities' efforts to vacate the place.

The Sena activists have been resisting the authorities' move to vacate the Bal Thackeray cremation site at the Shivaji Park, saying that the place is as sacred for them as the famous Ram temple in Ayodhya in north India.

In the normal course, the Shiv Sena should have vacated the cremation site in a day or two after the mortal remains of the Sena chief were consigned to flames on November 18.Instead of the vacating the place, the Sena activists had erected a make-shift structure at the site to facilitate the party workers to pay homage to their leader.

On his part, the Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte had -under section 440 (2) of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act,1888 - granted special permission to the Shiv Sena's Prabhu and Raut to undertake the cremation of Thackeray at the Shivaji Park. "The permission (to use the site for ThackerayaACAys funeral) that the Commissioner had granted to the Shiv Sena was only for one day. The party should have vacated the place a day after the cremation," a senior civic officer said. It is not that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not made any efforts to evict the Shiv Sainiks from the place. In fact, the Mumbai Municipal Commissioner had on December 3 served a notice on the city Mayor Sunil Prabhu and party's spokesperson and Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut, directing them to dismantle the temporary structure at the Thackeray cremation site and vacate the place forthwith.

However, the Shiv Sena has vehemently refused to vacate the Thackeray cremation site, despite the fact that it occupies a prime position at the Shivaji Park which is essentially a playground and where no construction can be undertaken. Nor have the Sainiks dismantled the temporary structure that they have erected at the site.

In the beginning, the Shiv Sena had proposed that a memorial for late Thackeray be constructed his cremation site. However, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan rejected the proposal, saying that Shivaji Park being a play ground, no memorial be constructed there. However, since then, the Sena has since been insisting that the "sanctity" of the place be maintained.

Amid speculation that the BMC had requisitioned a posse of police personnel to have the Thackeray cremation site vacated, large crowds of Sena activists began descending on the Shivaji Park since Saturday.

The crowds gathered at the Shivaji Park are in addition to a sizeable number of party activists who have been staying put at the site since November 19, to prevent efforts by the civic authorities to vacate the place.

Raut, who was among the Sena leaders that visited the Shivaji Park on Saturday, warned the civic authorities against any efforts to vacate the place forcibly.

"The place is sacred for us. You can see for yourself that even a fortnight after Balasaheb's cremation, people are continuing to visit the place to pay homage our leader. There is no question of our ever vacating the place. The site will remain as it is for times to come. My request to authorities is that they should not interfere in this matter. They should instead co-operate with us in maintaining the sanctity of the place," Raut said.

However, available indications suggested that the BMC might -- either during the weekend or early next week -- dismantle the Sena-erected temporary structure and vacate the place. "We are not doing anything in a hurry as such an action will lead to law and order problems," a senior civic official said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 9, 2012
Words:651
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