Maharashtra govt imposes prohibitory orders in Kolhapur citing flood relief, withdraws it after criticism

The Maharashtra government on Monday night withdrew the prohibitory orders imposed in Kolhapur following widespread criticism from the Opposition. With the city still reeling under flood waters after heavy rains, the government had issued an order prohibiting assembly of people from August 12 to August 24. The prohibitory orders were imposed using the section 37(1) and (3) of the Maharashtra Police Act. The restrictions are similar to section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The Maharashtra government justified its move saying that the restrictions were important to ensure that the relief work is carried out smoothly. Maharashtra revenue and relief and rehabilitation minister Chandrakant Patil said that the focus was on bringing back normalcy within the district, reported the Hindustan Times. The order said that with a number of festivals coming up, the possibilites of people committing suicide or going on indefinite strike could not be ruled out. The government said that police would be needed for relief operations and could not be expected to handle the crowds during these festivals. Today it is Bakri Eid, then Independence Day and then there is Dahi Handi, so this is a normal procedure, Patil was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came down heavily on the government. State Congress president Ashok Chavan said that the move showed that the government lacked common sense. Chavan said that the BJP was imposing restrictions to hide its failures as the party is worried about people outraging against the government. NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik also voiced their displeasure against the restrictions imposed by the state governent. Accorping to HT, Malik wondered if it was General Dyers government that was ruling the state. The flood waters in Kolhapur have started receding and the focus is now on the relief operations. A number of people are still taking shelter in transit camps. The authorities are trying to ensure that essential supplies reach people affected by the rain fury.