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Arrest order, backlash against Raj

Mumbai police are unlikely to arrest Raj Thackeray immediately because legal experts are still figuring out a course of action that will stand in court, reports Dharmendra Jore.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2008 01:03 IST
Dharmendra Jore

Repercussions of Sunday’s attack by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists on North Indian candidates for railway recruitment were felt by the central and state governments on Monday.

Under pressure to take action, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh went into a huddle with top Home and police officials to decide what action could be taken against MNS chief Raj Thackeray, even as angry North Indian MPs forced repeated adjournments of the Lok Sabha.

The state also faces a potential law and order problem after the police received the non-bailable warrant issued against Thackeray by a Ranchi court in a case related to similar earlier attacks.

Thackeray has moved the Ranchi court to get the case transferred to Mumbai.

Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal MPs demanded action against Shiv Sena and MNS activists. RJD MP Devendra Prasad Yadav said: “The Maharashtra government is ineffective. Article 355 should be imposed in the state. Thackeray is indulging in a new form of terrorism.”

The state is unlikely to arrest Thackeray immediately because legal experts are still figuring out a course of action that will stand in court. The fact that Thackeray was not directly involved in the attacks and that he chooses his words carefully while making speeches is a hindrance.

“We are concerned because the Home Department had to let Thackeray go in a case related to the agitation for Marathi signboards,” said a source in the Law and Judiciary Department.

Fearing violence in MNS-dominated areas, hundreds of party workers were detained. Several MNS leaders went underground to avoid arrest. Thackeray, meanwhile, continued with his state tour, reaching Ratnagiri from Mahad in
Raigad district.

The local police are expected to assist the Jharkhand police in serving the non-bailable warrant on Thackeray. MNS’s Shirish Parkar said Thackeray was likely to return to Mumbai on October 23.

As pressure mounted from all quarters, especially from northern leaders in the Centre’s United Progressive Alliance, Deshmukh put up a brave face. He dismissed allegations that the state failed in preventing violence against North Indians.

In Patna, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar demanded central intervention, describing the attacks as a threat to the constitutional framework.

Political parties and students’ bodies burnt effigies of Thackeray and took out processions demanding his immediate arrest.

In Mumbai, the Samajwadi Party targeted the government. “Thackeray has been blatantly breaking the law since February. The state government is impotent,” said Abu Azmi, president of Samajwadi Party’s state unit.

dharmendra.jore@hindustantimes.com

(With inputs from Anirban Guha Roy and Aloke Chatterjee in Patna)