Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray continued his tirade against North Indians, this time venting his ire on hawkers who are planning to take out a rally on January 24 on Azad Maidan. Thackeray warned them against taking out the rally or face “MNS style” action.
“I have heard that the hawkers are planning to take out morcha at Azad Maidan. If that happens, I would like them to know that after the rally, the MNS will show its strength on every footpath of Mumbai,” Raj said. He was speaking to the press for the first time after his uncle Bal Thackeray’s death in November last year.
The Azad Hawker Union has planned to take out a rally on January 24 to protest alleged police high-handedness, which led to the death of a hawker in Vakola last week. Madan Jaiswal, a 40-year-old hawker operating in Santacruz (East) died during a drive by Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble. Hawkers alleged that Jaiswal died after Dhoble assaulted him, while police claimed that he died of a heart attack.
With elected representatives like Congress MP Priya Dutt protesting Dhoble’s behaviour, he was transferred soon after the incident. Raj said such transfers by the state were affecting the police’s morale. “Just like Azad Maidan riot, the same thing is happening again. The government seems to have no other work than finding ways to dampen the police’s morale,” he said.
Raj also questioned a proposal, which states that hawking licence should be given to two per cent of the city’s population. He hinted that most illegal hawkers in the city were North Indians and asked the government why officers like Dhoble, who were taking action against such hawkers, were being targeted. “If the government blames officials for doing their duty, who will act against these illegal hawkers?” Raj said.
He asked citizens not to buy anything from illegal hawkers. He said the government should give priority to Maharashtrian hawkers.
Raj also castigated Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who had stated that he was not happy with Dhoble’s transfer. “He should explain why he did not speak up when Dhoble was being transferred by the home ministry, which is controlled by his own party,” he said.
‘Border crisis created to divert attention’
MNS chief Raj Thackeray has alleged that the recent escalation of tension between India and Pakistan may have been orchestrated to divert the attention of citizens from real issues. “Whenever the government faces problems in the country, it manufactures some problem on the border to divert public opinion,” Thackeray said.
Raj said it would be difficult to say if killed jawans were actual martyrs. “I don’t know if the jawans were actually martyrs or just victims of India-Pakistan politics,” he said.