Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction accuses BJP of ‘communalising’ Nashik temple incident 

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut condemns SIT probe ordered by Fadnavis

Published - May 17, 2023 08:38 pm IST - Pune

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut. File

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Castigating the special investigation team (SIT) probe ordered by Maharashtra Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis into the Trimbakeshwar temple incident as “a well thought out political move”, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on May 17 accused the ruling BJP of trying to destroy social harmony in Maharashtra.

Mr. Raut further remarked that late Sena founder Bal Thackeray had never believed in creating riots between Hindus and Muslims.

The Maharashtra Government had on Tuesday constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe a recent incident in which a group of people from the minority community allegedly attempted to “forcibly” enter the Trimbakeshwar temple in Nashik.

Speaking in Nashik on Wednesday, Mr. Raut was responding to accusations made by BJP leaders like Nitesh Rane against the Thackeray faction for forsaking its “Hindutva” and “appeasing” the minority community instead.

“Balasaheb Thackeray was one of the greatest Hindutva leaders of the country… He never ordered wanton attacks on Muslims nor believed in deliberately fomenting Hindu-Muslim riots… This is not our ‘Hindutva’. We have never used this as a tool to gain political mileage unlike some other parties,” Mr. Raut said, in a thinly-veiled jibe at the ruling BJP.

The Sena (UBT) MP further alleged that nobody had tried to enter the Trimbakeshwar temple “forcibly” (on the night of May 13) as was being projected by Mr. Fadnavis and the BJP, but that a group of people from the minority community had been following a hallowed tradition during their procession that issued out from a nearby dargah.

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“There is a 100-year-old tradition where devotees of the Sufi saint Gulab Shah Sandal offer dhup [frankincense] at the steps of the Trimbakeshwar temple during their procession and pass on. The people of another religion just followed this tradition by visiting the entrance gate of the temple. They had moved forward. No one forcibly attempted to enter the temple,” said Mr. Raut, hinting that the Maharashtra government was deliberately trying to communalise the incident.

He further said that such traditions were followed not only in Maharashtra but also across India while noting that even PM Modi visits dargahs like the Ajmer Sharif.

“During the Ganpati festival, the Muslim community too revere Mumbai’s famed Lalbaugcha Raja when the procession marches through the neighbourhoods of the minority community. They shower flowers on the procession,” Mr. Raut said, stating that the government was deliberately trying to destroy the social equilibrium of the State.

A statement issued by the office of Deputy Chief Minister and State Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said that an officer of the rank of Additional-Director General (ADG) would head the SIT and that a stern probe would be carried out. A First Information Report too has been filed in the case.

“A group representing a certain community had tried to enter the main gate of the temple. The SIT will not only conduct a strict probe into this incident, but will also investigate a similar incident which took place last year at the same temple,” the statement from Mr. Fadnavis’ office had said.

Speaking on BJP national president J.P. Nadda’s two-day visit in Maharashtra, Mr. Raut said that Mr. Nadda was welcome in the State, while quipping that the BJP lost wherever Mr. Nadda went.

“Mr. Nadda stayed put in Karnataka to campaign for his party, but the BJP suffered a resounding defeat. Now, he is coming to Maharashtra. We welcome him. Wherever he goes, the BJP loses,” said the Sena (UBT) leader.

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