Sena wants to revive commemoration of Afzal Khan's killing by Shivaji
Mumbai: The Shiv Sena is planning to revive the commemorative celebrations to mark the 355th anniversary of the killing of Bijapur general Afzal Khan by Chhatrapati Shivaji, party leaders said here Tuesday.
When the erstwhile Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government ruled 1995-1999, the Sena had initiated a celebration "Shiv Pratap Din" to mark Afzal Khan's slaying Nov 10, 1659 at the famed hilltop Pratapgad Fort in Satara district.
"It was celebrated annually by the Pratapgad Utsav Samiti to commemorate the historic event in which Chhatrapati Shivaji's courage and bravery came to the fore by killing Afzal Khan," senior party leader Diwakar Raote said.
As part of the commemoration, Sena will demand demolition of certain alleged unauthorized construction activities near the Pratapgad Fort.
The Shiv Sena-initiated celebrations were stopped as a precautionary measure by the Congress-NCP government from 2004 following attempts to politicize the issue by certain groups.
"Since a BJP government is in power now and it had invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji during the recent poll campaign, it is their duty to permit us to hold a mega-commemoration even at the Pratapgad Fort Nov 28," Raote urged.
Pratapgad Utsav Samiti chief Milind Ekbote added that it has sought the new government's clearance to hold the 'Shiv Pratap Din' celebrations like they were held prior to 2004.
Incidentally, during the Maharashtra assembly election campaign, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had created a flutter when he had compared Team Modi's campaign with Afzal Khan's army which had come to conquer Maharashtra.
Appointed by Ali Adil Shah II of Bijapur sultanate, Afzal Khan was a feared general who rode an elephant, commanded a personal army of over 10,000 soldiers and wielded a diamond-studded sword.
He was killed in 1659 during a personal meeting with Shivaji at the Pratapgad Fort and later his army was routed by the Marathas.
Subsequently, Afzal Khan was buried with full military honours at the foothills of Pratapgad where an annual 'urs' was held at his grave.
After Afzal Khan's death, the powerful Bijapur sultanate was defeated and annexed by the Mughals in 1686.