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Clamp down on sainiks

The Shiv Sena and the MNS thrive on criminal actions. So why the kid gloves treatment?

india Updated: Nov 22, 2009 21:27 IST

The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have a branding battle and the world outside gets hurt. In a scenario that’s becoming painfully familiar, both collectives of sainiks are on a mission to come out looking the loudest, the craziest and the most visible embodiment of reactionary violence between the two. Perhaps this is the shakedown before things settle down with the MNS permanently carrying the powder keg that the Shiv Sena’s patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray concocted decades ago. Perhaps the two Senas will feed off each other in a battle of survival that involves only one principle: our goons are more effective than yours but let both our goons ply their trade. Whatever the case may be, Friday’s blatant attack on the offices of Hindi and Marathi TV news channels IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat in Mumbai and Pune by a Shiv Sena mob poses a serious question: do we play into the hands of groups like the MNS and Shiv Sena by treating them as political parties rather than what they really are — shock-troopers terrorising the citizenry under the sanction of parliamentary politics?

Only a few days ago, the MNS made it to the news by assaulting a legislator inside the Maharashtra assembly building. Then came Bal Thackeray’s sniding remarks in the Shiv Sena publication Saamna against Sachin Tendulkar’s comments against rabid Marathi parochialism. Mr Thackeray was well within his rights to make his opinion public, as was anyone else to make his or her opinion about Mr Thackeray’s rant public too. Where the ball rolls too far from the court each time is the violence that is subsequently unleashed. This ‘dramabazi’ must be stopped and stopped with the same fanfare that accompanies Sena vandalism and goonery.

It wouldn’t be out of place to ask ourselves — as well as those authorities whose task is to see that law and order don’t become casualties at the altar of agitprop politics — whether we have become complacent while dealing with the MNS and the Shiv Sena. At some level, their extra-judicial behaviour has been accepted as a necessary irritant that can be tolerated because ‘sainiks will be sainiks’. Political parties that abhor the ways of both the Senas, too, pussyfoot about and worry more about the ‘backlash’ of taking action against these political terror units rather than taking firm action against them to send out the message that criminal activities won’t be tolerated. This must stop. And for starters, the law must come down hard not only on the perpetrators of the mahyem unleashed on the news channel offices on Friday but also on the party that makes such attacks so easy to carry out and exists on them.