Raj blames Bangladeshis immigrants for Mumbai violence
Mumbai: MNS chief Raj Thackeray Tuesday demanded the resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil at a mass rally called to denounce the Aug 11 violence for which be blamed Bangladeshis.
The show of strength that brought some 50,000 supporters marching to the Azad Maidan - the very site of the earlier violence that left two dead and dozens injured -- defying a police ban.
Speaking in his usual aggressive style, Thackeray warned that similar outbreaks of violence, blamed on Muslim groups who were protesting against attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and Assam, would not be tolerated.
Besides Patil, Thackeray also called for Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik`s resignation for failing to foresee the violence of Aug 11 during which mobs attacked police personnel and journalists.
Some policemen were critically injured while there were attempts to molest policewomen. Police officers later said there would have been a bloodbath had they allowed police personnel to open fire at will.
Thackeray flashed what he said was a green colour passport found at the venue Aug 11 purportedly belonging to a Bangladeshi, and said the Aug 11 gathering had many outsiders who dared to attack police and the media.
"This will not be tolerated and limits cannot be crossed. We will not tolerate anybody who dares to take on Maharashtra," he thundered, drawing huge applause.
The MNS founder leader pointed out that many Muslims came prepared for violence that day armed with iron rods, bamboos and stones. He asked both Patil and Patnaik to resign.
"If they have an ounce of shame, they should immediately quit," Thackeray said to widespread applause from the gathering.
But he underlined that the MNS show of strength was not directed against any religious group but was called to express solidarity with the ordinary Marathi policemen and policewomen and the Mumbai media.
He denied that he had a Hindutva agenda.
Thackeray also sought a probe into Raza Academy`s record, saying its gatherings usually ended in violence.
He did not spare other politicians including Samajwadi Party state chief Abu Asim Azmi, who he said won elections from two constituencies as these housed many Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.
Thackeray also ridiculed the Republican Party of India (RPI) and other parties for not speaking against the Aug 11 violence.
"Except demanding Indu Mills land, what has (RPI chief) Ramdas Athawale done? Does he want to construct a bungalow there?" he asked sarcastically.
After the speech ended, a policeman in uniform handed Thackeray a rose flower -- to show his appreciation of the MNS leader.
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