Massive demonstrations were held by the Congress party-led Opposition front INDIA backed by different social organisations and secular activists who gathered at Lokmanya Tilak Statue site in Mandai, waved black flags and raised slogans against PM Narendra Modi’s silence on the Manipur violence ahead of his visit to the city on Tuesday to receive an award.
Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was part of this demonstration even as Pawar is slated to give away this year’s Lokmanya Tilak award to Modi.
The prestigious Lokmanya Tilak National Award is given every year to life time achievers by the privately-run Tilak Trust. Apart from the awards programme, Modi will also visit Dagdusheth (Ganpati) temple, inaugurate a new metro rail line extension which connects Pimpri -Chinchwad and Pune city and will lay foundation stones for various development projects in Pune. Meanwhile, a heavy security deployment was put around the protest site where several Congress and opposition leaders were taken into preventive custody by the police.
More than 6000 security personnel are on the ground as part of heightened security measures undertaken by the police and other security agencies for the PM’s visit. The police barricaded the protest site to prevent any further movement of the agitated protestors. The Congress leaders further alleged that agitation would be intensified if the protests were taken into police custody.
Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar criticised Modi’s silence on Manipur and said, “The visit to Pune is a publicity stunt with no real benefit to the people. He should have visited Manipur and listened to their pain and sufferings. Instead of empty promises, the PM should have first spoken in Manipur and broken his silence.”
The Congress leaders threatened that if they were arrested, then the agitation would further intensify. All the protesting leaders were bundled into a police van and taken to Vishrambaug Police Station. Amongst the protestors were former MLC Mohan Joshi, former MLA Ramesh Bagwe and other opposition party leaders.
Prominent social worker Kumar Saptarshi said, “It is wrong to associate Lokmany Tilak’s name with Modi. There is no connection between Lokmanya Tilak and Modi. The PM does not believe in democracy. He does not address the Lok Sabha and does not speak on Manipur burning. We condemn the prime minister for remaining silent on Manipur and his anti-democratic functioning, ” he said.
Saptarshi further alleged, “In the wake of the PM’s visit, a large number of policemen have been deployed for security and it is a pointer towards dictatorship. The current situation prevailing in the country is akin to the situation in Germany when Hitler rose to power. Our main opposition is to the rising tide of fascism and dictatorship in the country. Our organisation was served notices by the police and some of the office bearers were detained. If protests are not held then nothing would remain for the people of the country,” he said.
Interestingly, several social organisations that were silent all these years seem to have now been emboldened to seek the umbrella of the INDIA alliance to intensify their protests.
Veteran social worker Anwar Rajan said that the protest was an apt platform to convey the message that division in the society on the basis of hate will not be tolerated by the citizens.
“Lokmanya Tilak had said that we don’t need Surajya but we need Swarajya. The same situation is prevalent across the country today and the country is sliding fast into tyranny due to rampant communalism in the society.”
Source: National Herald India