A statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a 17th-century Maratha king, was unveiled in Kupwara district of Kashmir, marking a new symbol of nationalism. The unveiling ceremony was led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and attended by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Major General Girish Kalia, GOC, Vajr Division, and other senior army and civil officers.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a historical figure known for his battles against Muslim Mughal rulers. However, he is widely regarded as a secular king who belonged to a marginalized caste.
Before the revocation of special status in 2019, Kashmir had limited statues installed in public places. One of the few existing ones was a bust of Major Somnath Sharma, a war hero who died while defending against tribal invaders from Pakistan in 1947.
The newly unveiled statue stands at 10 feet and portrays the Maratha warrior king riding a horse. It has been erected at a Maratha Light Infantry Regiment camp in Kupwara, and the occasion was marked with special prayers conducted by a priest.
A joint effort between the Pune-based NGO Amhi Punekar and the 41 Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian Army (Maratha Li), the statue was welcomed with enthusiasm by numerous army personnel, who celebrated its arrival in Kupwara.
Lieutenant Governor Sinha praised the NGO for this “historic initiative” and expressed his belief that the statue would serve as a source of inspiration for the people and the brave soldiers of the army. He also called for the celebration of a Shivaji festival in Kupwara on November 7 every year.
Eknath Shinde, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, noted the significance of erecting the statue in the same year as the 350th anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s coronation. Shinde, who is a Shiv Sena leader and a BJP ally, has shown particular interest in Kashmir, visiting the region in June to request land from LG Sinha for the construction of a Maharashtra Bhavan in Kashmir, a move that no other state has yet undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir.