Thousands stage protest demanding naming of Navi Mumbai airport after D B Patil

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Mumbai, Jun 24 (PTI) Thousands of people from Raigad, Thane and Palghar districts of Maharashtra staged a protest in CBD Belapur area on Thursday demanding that the under-construction Navi Mumbai international airport be named after late D B Patil, a local leader, by August 15.

The protesters, numbering around 10,000, shouted slogans against the state-run City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is executing the project, and asked for nixing of the decision to name the airport after late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

Leaders of the protest also threatened to stop the construction of the greenfield project if the demand was not met by August 15.

While several local leaders including those from ruling alliance partner Congress and opposition BJP took part in the huge protest, leaders from the Shiv Sena were absent.

While the organizers had earlier given a call to 'gherao' (besiege) the CIDCO Bhavan at CBD Belapur township in Navi Mumbai, the protesters were stopped a kilometre away.

The police had deployed more than 4,000 personnel, 500 officers and Reserve Police Force units on the roads leading to the CIDCO office, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Shivraj Patil. The protest march went off peacefully but the organizers would be booked for organizing it without police permission, he added.

At least 10,000 people took part in the protest, he said.

Traffic on various arterial roads including Palm Beach Road was diverted, said another official.

A delegation of protesters later met CIDCO's managing director and submitted their demands.

Addressing the protesters, former MP Ramsheth Thakur said CIDCO should name the airport after D B Patil by August 15 or the construction of the airport will be stopped.

Patil, a local leader, had struggled to get adequate compensation for farmers whose lands were acquired for the airport.

Communist leader Dashrath Patil, Congress' Hussain Dalwai, BJP MLA Prashant Thakur, BJP leader and former MP Sanjeev Naik, former MLA Jagannath Patil and MNS legislator Raju Patil also participated in the protest.

The Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government and CIDCO have announced that the airport would be named after Bal Thackeray.

MNS MLA Raju Patil demanded that the BJP should make clear its stand on the demand to name it after D B Patil. BJP leader and former state minister Ravindra Chavan who attended the protest said his party had always supported the demand to name it for D B Patil. Local BJP MLA Manda Mhatre too backed the demand. PTI DC COR ARU GK KRK KRK

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