Even as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray dared the Government to execute the non-bailable warrant from Jamshedpur against him, police on Monday arrested over 150 MNS workers following assaults on non-Maharashtrian candidates appearing for railway recruitment examinations in Mumbai on Sunday.
While Thackeray hurled the challenge during his media interaction at Mahad in Konkan, the preventive arrests made during the day included nine in Nagpur and 15 each in Chandrapur and Amravati in Vidarbha besides nearly 50 in Mumbai, 66 in Nashik and 28 in Aurangabad.
In Nagpur, MNS city unit chief Hemant Gadkari could not be traced till late evening as he apparently went underground, though the police rounded up nine prominent party workers who were allegedly involved in violent incidents in the past, police said.
In Chandrapur, about 160 km from Nagpur, 15 MNS workers including city unit chief Anil Badwaik were arrested when they took out a procession and were about to blacken English name plates of some shops in the main market area on the Mahatma Gandhi road, police said.
An MNS press release said, the party decided to act (that is, blacken the shop name boards) two months after submitting a memorandum to the district administration demanding action against errant shopkeepers in accordance with the state government rules making Marathi name-boards mandatory for commercial establishments.
The arrests came soon after a delegation of the Uttar Bharatiya Sangh, an organisation of north Indian traders, called on district collector Pradip Kalbhor urging him to ensure their safety in view of what they described as an MNS hate campaign against north Indians.
While Amravati commissioner of police Jagan Nath confirmed that some arrests were made, he could not give the exact number of detentions or say whether it was a generally preventive action or meant to pre-empt some specific act on the part of MNS workers.
As many as 66 arrests were made in Nashik where MNS workers attempted to burn an effigy of Railways Minister Lalu Prasad to protest his remark that MNS chief Thackeray had "lost his mental balance". Among those arrested were two party general secretaries Vasant Gite and Atul Chandak.