Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) lived up to its reputation of intolerance by wreaking two consecutive days of havoc.
On Monday, MNS cadre went on the rampage at a cultural programme organized by North Indians as part of Republic Day celebrations in Nashik. They followed it up on Tuesday by ransacking the office of the registrar of Mumbai University.
Three days ago, Thackeray had renewed his pledge to continue his battle against North Indians.
The provocation for the attack on the university was a circular announcing social sciences as an option to languages. The
MNS is against this move as it believes it will lead to a drop in the demand for Marathi.
Fifteen members of the MNS students’ wing went to meet Vice-Chancellor Vijay Khole to demand that social sciences not be made an option with languages and Marathi be encouraged. But even as five members were discussing the matter with Khole, the others went on the rampage, vandalizing the registrar's office, smashing bottles (see pic) and assaulting the guards.
The police arrested six MNS activists for vandalism and rioting, but later released them on bail.
In Nashik, some 100 MNS workers stormed the Jijamata school and beat up the audience and organizers, accusing them of putting up a show of strength. Fifteen MNS acti-vists were arrested.
The MNS said the incident was unfortunate but blamed it on the organizers. Its state secretary Atul Chandak said: “The programmes were in Bhojpuri, which infuriated our workers. But it is sad such an incident occurred on such an auspicious day.”
Their counterparts in Mumbai weren’t apologetic though. “We won't budge till the circular is withdrawn,” said Chetan Pednekar of the students’ wing. He accused the university of tailoring the “whole proposal” for students from outside the state. He also defended the violence: “We went in a civilized manner but were ill-treated by university officials. Our members were provoked.”