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Shiv Sena vacates Shivaji park, removes Thackeray's memorial

Mumbai: A month after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was cremated, his party workers last night removed the temporary structure at the funeral spot at Shivaji Park which had become a makeshift memorial for his followers.

The process to remove the structure began around midnight in presence of Mayor Sunil Prabhu and senior Sena leaders including party group leader in Assembly Subhash Desai and was completed three hours later.

Curtains were put up around the structure and a soil extractor machine was used for removal after which the debris was put in a truck.  Although the process which went on after 3 am, was largely peaceful, police foiled a bid by zealous Shiv Sainiks to erect a memorial of the Sena patriarch adjacent to the Shivaji statue at the park.

Thackeray Memorial at Shivaji Park. PTI

Media was prevented by Sainiks from filming the structure removal.

Meanwhile, Sena sources said the party which along with BJP, controls BMC was likely to press for an alternate memorial spot in the civic body meeting.

Senior Sena leader Ramdas Kadam, who paid homage at the site yesterday had said, "Uddhav Thackeray will keep his words given to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (on removal of the make-shift memorial)."

The Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had died on 17 November.

Ever since Thackeray's death, the Shiv Sena had pressed for a memorial to be built at Shivaji Park. "Come what may, we won't allow the removal of the 30x30 feet chowthara (platform)," Sena legislator Eknath Shinde told reporters. Referring to the large number of Shiv Sainiks from Mumbai, Thane and other places who had come to Shivaji Park, Shinde said they would not budge from the venue and also foil attempts to remove the structure.

The BMC, in its notice, had said that the permission to use the ground was given only for the cremation and that it should be restored to its original status as it is a reserved plot as per the city development plan. "The purpose for which the site was allotted (for Thackeray's cremation) is over. Therefore, we have asked both Prabhu and Raut to remove the structure immediately or face legal consequences," Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte had said.

Party's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut had last week spoken about shifting the make-shift memorial on 17 December.

With inputs from PTI