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Violence in Mumbai rallies political class against Raj Thackeray, MNS

Last Updated: Monday, February 4, 2008 - 00:00

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi, Feb 04: The violence unleashed by the Maharastra Navnirman Sena(MNS) activists and incendiary comments by its leader Raj Thackeray blew up into a national political issue on Monday with clashes between MNS and Samajwadi Party workers in Mumbai and protests in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Two taxis were damaged and their drivers assaulted by suspected MNS workers outside Shiv Sena headquarters in central Mumbai`s Dadar near the residence of Raj who heads MNS.

A group of persons attempted to burn an effigy of MNS chief Raj Thackeray in Chirag Nagar area of north eastern suburb Ghatkopar this afternoon and SP activists tore down posters put up by MNS in south Mumbai`s Colaba.

However, unlike yesterday, there were no major incidents of violence as heavy police presence was in place in the metropolis since this morning.

Protests in north India

In Allahabad, SP workers tried to obstruct movement of trains protesting MNS` targeting north Indians and Chhat Puja and NCP activists burnt an effigy of Raj in Lucknow.

RJD youth wing staged a demonstration against Raj and MNS in Patna.

Effigies of Raj were burnt in different areas of steel town of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand and staged demonstration in front of Maharashtra Hitkari Mandal in protest against his remarks on Chhat Puja and north Indians. A police picket was been deployed near the Mandal office.

Probe ordered against MNS

Maharashtra government has already ordered a high-level probe into yesterday’s incidents involving Raj Thackeray`s supporters even though Thackeray denied the role of his supporters in instigating the violence.

"We will not let anyone take law into their hands. Police have been asked to take adequate steps to curb such violent incidents," Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said. "Attack on those hailing from outside Maharashtra will not be tolerated," he added.

Meanwhile, a local court today granted bail to 25 MNS activists who were taken into custody following yesterday’s violence.

FIR against Raj, SP for MNS de-recognition

Samajwadi Party approached the Election Commission to demand de-registration of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena arguing that it had no allegiance to Indian Constitution.

SP general secretary Amar Singh petitioned the EC that action be taken against the MNS and its leaders as Thackeray has been issuing "veiled as well as open threats" against non-Maharashtrians.

Raj Thackeray is "exhorting his party cadre to perpetrate acts of violence against non-Maharashtrians" in the state, Singh said in his petition through his advocate Pradeep Rai.

Describing as "reprehensible" Thackeray`s "conduct and inflammatory statements", the SP leader said the MNS chief had attempted to "sow the seeds of discord and rabid and intolerant communalism, thereby attempting to violate the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and as also attempting to violate the unity and integrity of India."

Party General Secretary Amar Singh also lodged an FIR against Thackeray in the wee hours
on Monday accusing him of encouraging attacks on north Indians.

Big B’s house attacked

The Mumbai has also been put on high alert after two motor-cycle borne youths threw glass bottles at Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s residence `Prateeksha` in Juhu early this morning.

The attack on Bachchan’s house followed MNS leader Raj Thackeray`s criticism of Big B for his alleged negligence of Maharashtra. The MNS, however, denied that it was behind the attack on Bachchan’s residence.

Political reactions

Cutting across ideological spectrum, the political class
demanded stern action against
Raj Thackeray and his marauding
party activists.

Congress said Thackeray`s stand against communities in
general and Biharis in particular was against the very concept
of India.

"We cannot divide India as these parties are trying to do
into narrow walls of obscurantism and intolerance. This is a
divisive agenda not only of Raj Thackeray and his party but
also of his mentor and teacher Bal Thackeray and Shiv Sena,"
AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters in Delhi.

BJP Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad condemned the
attacks on north Indians in Mumbai and asked Maharasthra
government to take stern action against those who indulged in

Without naming Raj or his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, he
denounced the "rabid violence designed to destroy social
cohesion and harmony" in Maharashtra.

Terming the attacks on north Indians as "a result of the
propaganda and statements directed against Hindi-speaking
people living in Mumbai by a parochial political outfit,"
CPI(M) sought firm steps against "chauvinist elements" and
protection of the life and property of people.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP chief Mayawati
accused the Maharashtra government of having failed to check
attacks on north Indians and demanded central intervention to
protect their lives and properties in the state in the wake of
MNS targeting them.

Bihar`s main opposition RJD demanded a case of sedition
be lodged against Raj and his supporters.

State RJD President Abdul Bari Siddiqui also demanded
that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convene an emergency
meeting of the national integration council to discuss the
situation arising out of a wave of violent incidents following
Thackeray`s remarks.

Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav demanded
adequate security be provided to north Indians and asked the
administration to prevent violence in future.

The NCP, a key member of ruling
coalition in Maharashtra, criticised Raj Thackeray for
his party`s attack on north Indians and said the campaign was
just a "cheap publicity stunt".

"Raj will not get any public support by such cheap
publicity stunts. On the contrary, he has fallen from the eyes
of people," said NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar here.

First Published: Monday, February 4, 2008 - 00:00

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