A ghost from the past revisited Mumbai, leaving ten people injured, several in the lockup and long traffic snarls on a late Sunday afternoon.
The ghost: the issue of outsiders ruining Mumbai. Only this time, Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) — and not the Shiv Sena — led the street assault on north Indians who had come to attend a United National Progressive Alliance organised by the Samajwadi Party (SP) rally at Dadar’s Shivaji Park.
With the Shiv Sena changing its attitude towards the north Indian migrants, Raj seems to be wooing the Marathi manoos harder than ever.
MNS and SP men tore posters, pelted stones and smashed windows of vehicles outside Dadar’s Plaza theatre. Taxi drivers, roadside vendors and passers-by were randomly stopped and assaulted. Theatres screening Bhojpuri films in Thane and Nashik were also vandalised.
Joint Commissioner of Police KL Prasad said: “Anti-socials tried to vitiate the situation. We have detained some people.”
Later, state SP chief Abu Azmi was detained at Malabar Hill police station when he went to protest against the attack in front of the chief minister’s bungalow, Varsha.
The violence comes after SP leaders criticised Raj’s comments against star Amitabh Bachchan and the north Indian practice of Chhat Puja.
“Raj’s party is not left with any issues,” said Sena Spokesperson Neelam Gorhe. “Marathi and Hindutva should go together to build a stronger nation.” Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said: “Those attacking people from other states will not be spared. Maharashtra has an inclusive culture.”
(Inputs from Rajendra Aklekar)