Ahmednagar/Mumbai, Aug 18: Suspected members of hardline Maratha group Sambhaji Brigade today vandalised Maharashtra minister Ram Shinde's office in Ahmednagar district to protest against the state government's decision to present a top award to noted historian Babasaheb Purandare.
The protesters, numbering over 12, pelted stones and damaged furniture and windows of Shinde's newly built office in Ahmednagar, about 250 km from Mumbai, in western Maharashtra, district police chief Saurabh Tripathi said.
They raised slogans against the BJP-led government's decision to present Maharashtra Bhushan Award, the state's top honour, to Purandare, who has written extensively on events related to the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Sambhaji Brigade, in the past, has accused Purandare of "distorting" history and "defaming" the 17th century warrior king.
"Volunteers from Sambhaji Brigade vandalised my office because I am the Guardian minister of Ahmednagar district and the (Junior) Home Minister (Rural). CCTVs have already been put in the office, which is yet to be formally inaugurated," Shinde, the Minister of State for Home, said.
"They broke glasses and caused a lot of monetary loss. The police must have already registered a case. Such an attack has not only happened in my office but in other places of the state as well," he told PTI in Mumbai.
Opposition Congress latched onto the attack to demand that the Home portfolio be handled by a full-time Cabinet Minister and alleged that law and order situation is deteriorating.
At present, there are two Ministers of State (for rural and urban areas) and the key portfolio is handled by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said it's high time the charge of the Home Ministry is given to a "capable" person.
"If the Home Minister's office is not safe how can a common man expect to be safe? The attacks shows law and order situation in the state is getting from bad to worse. It's high time the Chief Minister handed over the Home portfolio to a capable minister so that law and order is maintained properly and his own MoS feels safe," the Mumbai Congress chief said.
Shinde, however, rejected Nirupam's charge about law and order situation.
"The law and order is completely in place whether it is Ahmednagar, Nagpur or Mumbai. The culprits will be arrested very soon. Anyone fomenting trouble in the state will not be spared."
The minister's office assistant Suresh Kale lodged a complaint at the Tophkhana Police Station.
Tripathi said a case has been filed under relevant Sections of IPC and Bombay Police Act but nobody has been arrested yet.