PMC deputy mayor, five RPI(A) workers booked

They held a protest over CIDCO’s razing of Keru Mata caves.

The New Panvel police have booked Jagdish Gaikwad, deputy mayor of Panvel Municipal Corporation, and five workers of the Republican Party of India (Athawale), RPI (A), for violating lockdown rules and holding a protest along with 150 people outside the police station on Wednesday.

Mr. Gaikwad and the RPI(A) workers were protesting the CIDCO’s demolition of the Keru Mata caves at the Navi Mumbai International Airport site through a controlled blast on Monday. Locals in Waghavli Wada had converted the caves into a temple. “The demolition hurt our religious feelings. It was an archaeological site which needed to be protected,” Mr Gaikwad said.

Mahesh Khare, State secretary, RPI(A), said, “The demolition was carried out late in the night. We had requested authorities to shift the temple site, but our sentiments were not respected.” Mr. Gaikwad said that he has proof from the archaeology department that the caves were built 2,500 years ago, replicating the rock-cut Buddhist caves in Aurangabad district.

Priya Ratambe, public relations officer, CIDCO, said the demolition was carried out in adherence to rules and with approval from villagers. “The villagers had shifted the idols of Keru Mata,” Ms Ratambe said.

The New Panvel police have issued notices to the six people who have been booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.

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