January  2004 
Year 10    No.95

Cover Story

Lawless Maharashtra

A 200-strong mob, calling itself the Sambhaji Brigade of the Maratha Seva Sangh, landed at the Bhandarkar Institute on January 5, 2004 and went on the rampage destroying rare manuscripts dating back to the 9th century. Though some of the losses may be irrecoverable, the monetary worth of the destruction is put at Rs. 1.25 crore. The police showed up 45 minutes after the attack, citing "lack of information" as the reason for the delay. So far, 72 people have been arrested.

(The Indian Express, January 6, 2004).

Some activists belonging to Shiv Sena cadres blackened Sanskrit scholar and historian Dr. Shrikant Bahulkar’s face on Dec 22, 2003, after forcing their way into his office at Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth. The "protest" was in connection with a controversial biography of Shivaji by a British historian, James W Laine. Shiv Sena leader Raj Thackeray later apologised on December 28. No police action was taken against the assaulters.

(The Indian Express, December 29, 2003).

A mob of about 50 NCP activists brandishing Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar’s portrait and NCP flags barged into the Zee Telefilms office at Andheri in north Mumbai shortly after noon on December 23. They were protesting against a political satire Ghadla Bighadla, telecast the Monday before on the Alpha Marathi channel, in which former deputy chief minister, Chhagan Bhujbal was pilloried for his connections with the multi-crore Telgi fake stamp paper scam. Police sources said, "After the panchnama we will find out the estimated cost of damage to property." The police registered a complaint of violence against the mob. No arrests have been made so far.

(The Asian Age, December 24, 2003).

More than 200 Shiv Sena activists arrived with poles, sticks and stones at 11.30 a.m. at this shopping arcade (R-Mall) in north-east Mumbai. For the next half hour, they went about shattering the gleaming window panes of stores including Lifestyle, Weekender, Big Bazaar and Westside. They were demanding job reservations for locals, as they had done in June, when the Shoppers’ Stop at Mulund came in for similar treatment. In Sunday’s incident, 11 persons including Sena leader Shishir Shinde were arrested. Shinde, who led the rampage, said the mall proprietors had promised jobs for around 300 locals. Shinde has led several such attacks before.

(The Indian Express December, 22 2003).

Protests over the railway job recruitment examinations spilled over to Maharashtra on November 18, 2003 as nearly 1,500 Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (ABVS) activists went on a rioting spree at Mumbai Central’s Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) office, protesting against the "raw deal" meted out to Maharashtrians seeking employment. Seven persons were injured. At least 50 rioters were rounded up by the police. Senior Shiv Sena leader Raj Thackeray, who is the de facto head of the ABVP, said that his organisation planned to intensify its agitation in the coming days.

(The Pioneer, November 20, 2003).

A mob of about 150 Shiv Sainiks on Wednesday barged into the missionary-run Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira Road and staged a noisy dharna in the hospital’s lobby for nearly four hours. The provocation? Eight employees were dissatisfied with a recent wage settlement and got the local Shiv Sena unit to intervene. The handful of policemen and security staff could do nothing to stop the mob other than prevent them from entering the upper floors of the hospital.

(The Indian Express, September 17 2003).

Thirty activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad were arrested after they stormed into a meeting of private medical college management representatives in Mumbai on September 10, 2003. The representatives of unaided medical colleges were discussing the repercussions of the recent Bombay High Court orders directing students to pay only 60 per cent of the proposed fee.

(The Deccan Herald, September 11, 2003).

The Sena’s shakha at Kher Nagar, Bandra (East) has warned the Chetana’s Hazarimal Somani College of Commerce and Arts to ‘reserve’ 80 per cent of the first year junior college (FYJC) admissions for local residents. Most of the locals are Maharashtrians. While the college has not filed a police complaint yet, the principal said they would request the Kherwadi police station for protection during admission time.

(Mid-day, June 30, 2003).

It was Sena mayhem outside the Dadar police station on Thursday night, when angry Shiv Sena men conducted a noisy six-hour dharna. They were demanding to know why five of their colleagues had been arrested at midnight on Thursday. The protest followed the arrest of five more Sena men for their involvement in the attack on former chief of naval staff Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat on February 28 for his criticism of the veneration of Vikram Savarkar in the Hall of the Lok Sabha.

(The Indian Express, May 10 2003).

Members of the Shiv Sena staged angry demonstrations yesterday outside the office of Rajya Sabha MP and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani following the former’s decision to defend the three convicts in the Parliament attack case.

Since the premises were empty, no one was hurt and neither was there damage to property. Around 40 Sena activists led by Vibhag Pramukh Bala Kalsekar reached Jethmalani’s second floor office at Jolly Maker, Nariman Point at 4.15 p.m. shouting slogans. Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, "The police are investigating into the Jethmalanis’ complaint and they will be given police security."

(Mid-day, January 5, 2003).

The Education Department served a show cause notice to Principal Fr Agnel Multipurpose School, Vashi, on January 3, 2003 in connection with the October (2002) incident in which the Bajrang Dal protested against an essay question in the school’s Std XII English paper. The Bajrang Dal had launched a violent protest against the school on October 21, 2002 saying that the question was derogatory to Hindus and could disrupt communal harmony. Students were asked to write on, ‘Hindutva philosophy and its disastrous effect on secular India.’ Fr Almeida had been arrested the next day and released on bail on November 11. The school had been charged under sections 295A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code for inciting hatred between religious groups. The deputy director of education (Nashik) served a show cause notice to the school, asking it to prove it was not violating rules by teaching religion on campus. The school was required to reply within a specified period, failing which recognition to its junior college would be cancelled.n

(Mid-day, January 6, 2003).

(For a detailed compilation of incidents of mob violence in Maharashtra in 2001 and 2000, visit our website www.sabrang.com).

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