Hundreds of Shiv Sena workers gathered outside the Saamana newspaper office in Prabhadevi on Friday, after hearing rumours that members of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) were planning to protest there. The AIMIM has been critical of editorials published in Saamana, the Sena’s mouthpiece, which asked for the disenfranchisement of Muslims, and promoted family planning within the minority community.
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers held a silent protest at Bhendi Bazaar, where party workers held up banners condemning the newspaper for its comments against Muslims.
The atmosphere in Prabhadevi was tense, after messages started circulating on social media that AIMIM legislator Waaris Pathan would lead the protest. However, Pathan dismissed the reports as a prank.
“I had at no point stated my intention to protest outside the Saamana office. Someone is spreading lies, using my name,” said Pathan. “I would be challenging the editorials in the court of law, and not on the streets,” he said.
The police force, however, rushed its personnel to prevent any untoward incident. There was heavy police bandobast outside the office, as, apart from workers, even legislators and office bearers gathered outside the office in large numbers, shouting slogans in favour of the Sena.
Saamana executive editor Sanjay Raut had written in its Sunday editorial that voting rights of Muslims should be revoked for a few years, to ensure the community is not used for vote bank politics. Three days later, another editorial called upon Muslim leaders to promote family-planning within the community. “India is facing the problem of population explosion. The population of Muslims in India is going to be more than that of Pakistan or Indonesia. This will hurt the culture and social fabric of a Hindu nation,” the editorial had contended. The articles had evoked large-scale protests against the Sena from its opponents.