Security beefed up around Maharashtra Legislature

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Mumbai, Mar 11 (UNI) Sensing possible security threat to the State Legislature building from anti-national elements, the Maharashtra government today strengthened security around the Vidhan Bhavan and decided to curtail the number of visitors besides banning entry of outside vehicles.

The seven-week Budget session began yesterday with Governor S C Jamir addressing a joint session of the legislature.

State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Patil told UNI that the steps have been taken due to security reasons.

''According to a report received by the Home Ministry, the Vidhan Bhavan building, which houses the state Legislature, is among the 12-14 possible targets of anti-national forces. Hence, as a precaution, we have decided to curb the number of passes issued and entry of outside vehicles in the premises,'' he informed.

Yesterday, legislators Shobhatai Phadanvis and Dr Deepak Sawant, who had taken a taxi to reach the Vidhan Bhavan, were stopped at the main gate. They later complained that they were made to leave the vehicle and walk till the main building which they felt was humiliating.

Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, who also holds the Home department, had told them that an official ambassador car would be stationed at the main gate to ferry legislators till the porch.

The issue of growing number of visitors also figured during a meeting with Mr Patil and Parliamentary affairs minister Harshvardhan Patil, who are also the presiding officers of both the Houses.

Mr Harshvardhan Patil felt that the number of visitors need to be curtailed and no recommendations should be entertained. ''If there is an urgency, the passes will be granted on special permission from the presiding officers.'' However, Shiv Sena leaders Madhukar Sarpotdar and Dr Deepak Sawant contended that the Assembly Speaker and Council chairman had not given any orders banning outside vehicles in the Vidhan Bhavan premises.

''Without directives from the presiding officers, legislators cannot be stopped. We will consider moving a breach of privilege notice in this connection,'' Dr Sawant said.

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