PUNE: Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar has issued a notification that the open space in front of Shaniwarwada will no more be available for any programme except government events. Taking a contrary stance later, Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak, at a press conference, said the General Body may review the notification.
Although the notification states that this action is being taken to “resolve the issue of traffic jams and noise pollution on Bajirao Road and Shivaji Road”, the order is being seen in connection to the Elgaar Parishad and the events that followed.
From being the seat of power of the Maratha empire to being a dais for greats like Bal Gangadhar Tilak to make fiery speeches, Shaniwarwada has been at the centre of politics in Pune. Recent events, including Elgaar Parishad, organised on December 31 by multiple Dalit and Left organisations, which saw Prakash Ambedkar, Radhika Vemula, Jignesh Mewani and Umar Khalid sharing the stage.
The Parishad and its organisers are blamed for the Koregaon-Bhima riots that followed. Reports by intelligence agencies claimed there was a ‘naxal connection’ to the event.
Kumar said, “We received multiple requests from the Pune Police to disallow political events at Shaniwarwada. We issued the order 5 days back. This is to ensure the safety and security of the historic monument.”
However, Tilak said, at a press conference, “The decision to disallow non-governmental use of the Shaniwarwada was taken long back by the General Body of the PMC in 1999-2000. The municipal commissioner has implemented the decision based on that. The current General Body was not consulted before taking this decision. We will write to the civic chief and stay the order. The General Body will reconsider the order later.”
When informed about the Mayor’s view, Kumar said, “We have just taken the decision in the interim to ensure law and order. If we are notified to stay it, we don’t have any issue with it.”