Cops to verify Salaskar memorial legality

Two days after a memorial to 26/11 martyr Vijay Salaskar at Kurar village in Malad (East) was allegedly razed by L K Infracon in agreement with NCP corporator Ajit Ravrane to facilitate redevelopment of a building, police said Friday they were yet to verify if the builder had BMC permission to do so.

"We will verify legality of the memorial and whether the corporator and the builder had requisite permissions. We will also consider objections filed by the family of Salaskar, if any," said Sunil Paraskar, additional commissioner of police (north region).

Police said L K Infracon had been redeveloping Santosh Society at Kurar for the past month and the memorial was right outside the society gate. Ravrane allegedly gave the builder permission to raze the structure coming in the way of the construction.

On Thursday, MNS damaged the construction site alleging Ravrane and the builder caused 'disrespect' to Salaskar by bulldozing the site. They also lodged a complaint with Kurar police station, but no FIR has been registered so far.

"I met all the parties concerned Friday morning. The memorial was not demolished but removed temporarily. The builder said he would build an even better memorial once the construction was complete. The memorial is not illegal, though there is no record of it with BMC. It was built as an emotional tribute to Salaskar," said Subhash Dafle, senior inspector.

Ravrane also claimed the memorial had not been razed but removed to prevent damage during redevelopment. He said it would be restored once the building was ready.

"It was my idea to build the memorial in the first place. The road is narrow and BMC garbage trucks would stop at the gate of the society twice a day, causing traffic problems. I rerouted the path of the garbage trucks and once the site was freed, decided to set up the memorial right outside the gate. It was inaugurated by his (Salaskar's) wife Smita on August 15, 2009," said Ravrane.

"At that time, there was no plan to redevelop the society. Fifteen days ago, Latesh Gada of L K Infracon told me he was redeveloping the building and three days ago, he put up aluminum sheets to barricade the site. In spite of the precaution, I noticed debris would keep falling onto the road. I was afraid the memorial would be damaged and he offered to remove it properly and put it back in its place after the building was ready. We got the memorial dismantled and have preserved its pieces and the BMC plaque in my office, so there is no question of razing it down with a bulldozer," he said.

Ravrane alleged MNS was deliberately politicising the issue with an eye on the 2014 assembly elections. "Where were they when we built the memorial? They are only doing this because elections are approaching. I am ready to face probe."

Meanwhile, MNS MLA Pravin Darekar said: "First of all, it is wrong to demolish a memorial in such a manner. Now that they have, we expect the developer to allot space at the project for reconstruction of the memorial."

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