Mumbai: Maharashtra women and child development minister Pankaja Munde's visit this week to a district grappling with endemic malnutrition has attracted controversy even before her arrival. Mounting pressure of Maratha Kranti morchas and other organisations on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government has resulted in the imposition of section 144 – prevention for unlawful assembling of people — during the BJP ministers’ official tours and at planned locations.
According to a senior home department official, Fadnavis is under tremendous pressure and he does not want BJP ministers to face public ire during their official tours. As part of Palghar district, the police superintendent issued a circular stating that, on September 19, section 144 will be imposed as women and child development minister Pankaja Munde has planned her tour at Mokhada, on September 21, in Palghar district.
The Shramjeevi Sanghatana organisation had prohibited and heckled the tribal development minister Vishnu Savara visting the tribal malnutrition victim family in Mokhada. In the tribal belt of Mokhada, as many as 10 people died due to the severe malnutrition in the past three months. The tribal organisation has alleged that in the last one year, 600 children had succumbed to malnutrition.
A senior government official said that due to the Maratha mook morchas, the situation is tense. “People are coming together in large numbers and we cannot predict the crowd psychology. Therefore, we are taking all precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incident,” he added.
As per the circular (copy with dna), section 144 has been imposed to avoid any untoward incident during the Pankaja Munde visit. “It will be effective in a 1km radius from Mokhada village. During this period, unlawful assembling will be not permitted,” stated the circular. Opposition leader Dhananjay Munde said that it was unfortunate that the government had to impose Section 144 during their minister’s visit.
“CM Devendra Fadnavis has been losing control over the state. This imposition is nothing but an attempt to muffle the voice of the people. If BJP ministers are so afraid of people, then they should sit at home and be safe,”
Munde said. Meanwhile, farmers in Dhule protested against the state for not releasing water. Police used lathi charge to disperse the crowd in Dhule, on Tuesday. Congress leader criticised the BJP government saying if they cannot give water, at least they should not beat the farmers.