Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday claimed “religious colour” was being given to some small issues in Maharashtra and the ruling parties are encouraging such things, which he said is a cause of concern.
Pawar’s remarks came against the backdrop of some youths displaying photos of 17th Century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in a procession in Ahmednagar and tension prevailing in Kolhapur city on Wednesday over the alleged use of Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message as social media “status” by some local people.
Asked about the law and order situation and some incidents of violence, Pawar claimed “religious colour” was being given to some small issues in the state.
“The rulers are responsible to establish law and order in the state. If the ruling parties and their people come out on roads over it and create a rift between two religions, then it is not a good sign,” he told reporters in Aurangabad.
“Recently we heard about Ahmednagar. Today, I saw news from Kolhapur. People came out on roads, and giving religious colour to a small incident of sending a message over the phone is not a good sign. The ruling parties are encouraging such things,” Pawar alleged.
In Kolhapur, a group of right-wing activists held a protest against the alleged use of Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message as social media “status” by some people. Later, some people hurled stones, forcing police to use force against them, a police officer said.
The NCP chief said it was wrong to give a religious angle to any message sent from mobile phones.
“Maintaining the law and order and peace is the responsibility of the government. But if the government itself provokes people and creates divisions in the society, it is not a good sign,” he said.
Pawar said riot-like incidents had taken place in the last few days in the state.
“But the good thing is that the tension is restricted to the areas concerned. But this is being done deliberately. For example, if someone has shown a photograph of Aurangzeb in Aurangabad, what is the reason to protest in Pune?” he asked.
Pawar also alleged churches are being attacked in Odisha and some other states.
“Christians are a peaceful community. The guilty should be punished but instead, churches are being attacked. An individual cannot do this. But a specific ideology is at work which is not good for the society,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra DY CM Devendra Fadnavis had wondered whether there is a link between political statements given by some leaders on riot-like situations and the display of Aurangzeb’s photos.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has appealed for peace.
With inputs from News18, PTI