Maharashtra government to install statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj killing Afzal Khan in Pratapgad

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Less than a week after removing several ‘unauthorised’ structures around Afzal Khan’s tomb at Pratapgad in Satara district, the Maharashtra government announced on Tuesday that it would install a statue at the spot depicting the murder of the 17th century commander of the Adil Shahi Dynasty of Bijapur by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to commemorate the historic event.

Named Shiv Pratap Smarak, the statue will come near the tomb from where the unauthorized structures were razed.

Amid concerns over encroachment on forest land, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha told the Indian Express on Tuesday that the government will ensure the facility does not encroach on forest land and that all necessary authorizations will be requested.

This year marks the start of the 350th anniversary of the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Lodha wrote a letter in this regard to the state administration on Tuesday. The letter, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, said: ‘The conquests of the revered king of Maharashtra, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, are known throughout the world. At Pratapgad, Shivaji Maharaj killed Afzal Khan, who had conspired against a Hindu nation, and taught him a lesson. This event has historical significance, which inspires millions of admirers of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In view of the start of the 350th anniversary of the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, this will give a boost to historical tourism.

“This is being done after requests from many people and organisations. I ordered the Satara District Collector to submit a proposal to the government. It will take some time. All required permissions will be sought for the installation,” Lodha told The Indian Express.

Khan was killed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj near Pratapgarh fort in Satara district in 1659 and a tomb had been built there in his memory. Significantly, the state government’s campaign against the encroachment came on the 363rd anniversary of the incident, celebrated by followers of the Maratha warrior king as ‘Shiv Pratap Din’. The demolitions were undertaken on November 10 by the Satara district administration amid a heavy police presence.

The administration said it had demolished “unauthorized structures” built around Khan’s medieval tomb.

Bombay High Court orders from 2017, in response to petitions from right-wing Hindu organizations asking that “unauthorized structures” around the tomb be removed, were cited for the action. According to the administration, since the early 1990s, additional structures – including pucca structures – have been built on site. The HC orders were for their removal.

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