Security Tightened Around Afzal Khan’s Grave in Maharashtra Amid Row Over Gyanvapi Mosque & Aurangzeb’s Tomb


Security has been tightened around the grave of Afzal Khan in Maharashtra’s Satara district amid the ongoing political row over the tomb of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Aurangabad and the hearing of the Gyanvapi mosque case in the Varanasi court in Uttar Pradesh.

Personnel of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Quick Response Team (QRT) have been deployed at Pratapgad near Mahabaleshwar, where the Khan’s tomb is located, to guard the site in view of the ongoing controversy.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Satara superintendent of police Ajay Kumar Bansal said Khan’s tomb has been a restricted area since 2005, and Section 144 of CrPC is there. “Additional police force deployment to the spot was part of a routine process in which the force visits all sensitive places in the district to assess the security arrangements there. This time, an assessment by forces was made in Mahabaleshwar where they visited Pratapgarh and Afzal Khan’s tomb,” the police was quoted as saying.

Reason behind Security Deployment Near Monuments

The security deployment at sensitive sites came days after Raj Thackeray and his party leader Gajanan Kale questioned the need for the existence of Aurangzeb’s tomb in Maharashtra and said it should be destroyed.

It is to be noted here that AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s recent visit to the tomb was criticized by the ruling Shiv Sena in the state and the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

According to Hindustan Times, Raj Thackeray on Sunday said at a rally, “Afzal Khan who was killed by our Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. His tomb is there and is being offered flower garlands on his grave by the people of a particular community. The Maharashtra government is sitting quietly on this issue. If the state government does not demolish this grave, then MNS party workers will demolish it soon.”

In a tweet recently, MNS spokesperson Kale also wondered what was the need for Aurangzeb’s tomb in Maharashtra and said it should be destroyed so that people would not go there. After this tweet, some people in the area, where the tomb is located, tried to lock the structure, which is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

When contacted, ASI’s Aurangabad circle superintendent Milan Kumar Chauley said that some people tried to lock the tomb, claiming there was a threat of it being vandalised. “But, I said unless anything is given to the ASI in writing, I shall not act on it. We have kept the monument open and have added four more security guards there. We also conveyed about the situation to police and they sent a security van there,” he said.

MNS Claims 2 Dargahs in Pune Built on Temple Land

The MNS has also claimed that two dargahs had been built on the Punyeshwar temple land in Pune city. MNS general secretary Ajay Shinde on Sunday said they have launched the ‘Punyeshwar Mukti’ (free the temple land) campaign and appealed to people to support the party’s fight in restoring the temple land.

Citing a recent survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, Shinde said government has started waking up in the wake of Raj Thackeray’s stand on Hindutva. “Like Gyanvapi, we are also fighting for the Punyeshwar temple in Pune,” he said. Shinde claimed that a commander of Khilji dynasty ruler Alauddin Khilji had demolished the Punyeshwar and Narayaneshwar temples in Pune and later dargahs were built on the land.

(with inputs from PTI)

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