FIR against Raj, arrest imminent

Updated on Feb 12, 2008 02:42 AM IST
Govt registers FIRs against Raj Thackeray and Abu Asim Azmi for speeches inciting ethnic clashes in Mumbai, neighbouring areas, report Naresh Kamath & Presley Thomas.
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Hindustan Times | ByNaresh Kamath & Presley Thomas, Mumbai

The Maharashtra government has registered a first information report (FIR) against political leaders Raj Thackeray and Abu Asim Azmi for speeches that incited ethnic clashes in Mumbai and neighbouring areas in the first week of February.

The arrest of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj and Samajwadi Party leader Azmi is imminent as they have been charged under non-bailable sections. It is for the investigating officer to decide when to go ahead with the arrests, a police officer said.

The Mumbai Police served Raj a notice on Monday asking him to not make any public statements till February 25 or address party workers or journalists. The party rejected the notice saying it was an affront to democracy.

"How can the police serve such a notice to a democratic leader? We will defy it," said MNS spokesperson Shishir Shinde. "Let law take its own course. We are ready to fight the legal battle."

After the FIR was filed in Vikhroli, shops shut down in the area and there was tension.

Meanwhile in Pune, copies of an English magazine were burnt because its latest issue depicted Raj as Hitler. MNS workers allegedly also walked into the magazine's Worli office in Mumbai and threatened the staff.

With speculations over when he would be arrested, Raj remained in his Shivaji Park residence, with riot control police patrolling the area. Top MNS leaders went underground.

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