Hearing kind words from Raj Thackeray for ordinary policemen, a constable on Tuesday turned emotional and greeted the MNS leader with flowers minutes after he launched a vitriolic attack on the city police chief over the August 11 Azad Maidan violence.
So touched was constable Pramod Tawade by Thackeray's show of empathy for policemen battered during the violence that he walked up to the leader after his speech at a party rally, handed him flowers and thanked him for support.
Thackeray led a march defying the police and held a rally at Azad Maidan to condemn last fortnight's violence and sought resignation of state home minister RR Patil and Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik.
Asked if his gesture of greeting the MNS leader would not invite action from his superiors, Tawde, currently in the wireless department at Byculla, said "let them take action, I am ready."
Tawade recalled how he and his colleagues in the traffic department were assaulted by CISF men on August 13, 2010.
Tawade, who had written to the President, Prime Minister, chief minister and home minister seeking swift action against the CISF personnel, alleged that the matter was "hushed up" at the behest of the Union home minister.
"When I approached Arup Patnaik seeking action against the CISF men, he made fun of me saying I look like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose," Tawde said.
The CISF team had got enraged when Tawade and his colleagues stopped their vehicle for driving in the wrong lane.
"They (Patil and Patnaik) have played with the morale of the police. Our policemen kept waiting for instructions to control violence. When a DCP got hold of a rioter, an abusive Patnaik told him to let off the offender," Thackeray had said, denouncing the home minister and police chief.
"If they have little shame, they should quit now." Thakeray demanded.