All the North Indians that I know of in Mumbai don’t seem to be scared at all,” says college student Bahaar Chopra. Her remark is just a glimpse of how ‘seriously’ North Indians have taken the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s attacks on the Hindi-speakers in the state. The MNS’s drive against non-Marathi speakers in the state may have entered the Maharashtra Assembly and spilled over to the streets, but it hasn’t dampened the spirits of the North Indians, particularly the Delhiites, living and working in the state.
Software professional Niranjan Negi says, “How long can we afford to be scared if we have to earn our bread and butter here? We have to go out for work eventually.”
“I haven’t seen or felt any tension. Also, the punishment given to the MNS guys is being supported by the Maharashtrians. Most people realise that the economic development of Maharashtra is dependent on people from outside. At some point of time, Marathi-speaking people too will start opposing the MNS,” says Ambuj Kashyap, a 22-year-old Delhiite in Pune.
Though there seem to be some instances of the Assembly incident affecting the pop-culture in the state. “Like for the past few days, the popular Hindi radio channels here have started airing programmes in Marathi,” says Sonia Mishra, a software professional working in Pune.
But the MNS zenophobia has not many followers even among the locals. Says Sanjay Aggarwal, a student at the Mumbai University, “I heard of some clashes in some parts of the city, but I don’t think they are out there to harm us. Most of my friends are Marathis and it’s all well between us.” Says Vijey Iyer of KM Musiq, a store owner in Pune, “My Marathi friends are cool. They don’t subscribe to the MNS theory.”
However, there’re some who have witnessed the anti-North Indian violence by MNS which has left them shaken. Anubhav Sharma, a Delhiite working in Mumbai says, “There’s always a threat of them disrupting trains and torching down buses.”