Saturday, August 30, 2008

Insidious intent

Indian Express, Aug 30, 2008

The immediate crisis over Marathi signboards for all shops in Mumbai might have subsided with the intervention of the Bombay High Court and the state government’s firmness, but several larger issues remain unresolved. The Bombay High Court, in response to a petition by the retail traders’ federation has insisted that the “rule of law must prevail” and that “no one can hold the state to ransom”. The court was referring to the manner in which activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, at the urging of their chief Raj Thackeray, had gone around the city threatening and attacking shops that did not display signboards in Marathi.

However, a far more serious issue remains unaddressed. Besides urging his cadre to virtually take the law into their own hands, Raj Thackeray also wrote an open letter to the Maharashtra police urging them not to “pick up lathis and serve externment notices” against members of the MNS who were terrorising local shopkeepers into displaying signboards in Marathi.
In a letter addressed to “all my police brothers and sisters”, Raj Thackeray has claimed that the agitations conducted by his party are “directly and indirectly for you all”. Maharashtra’s “entire police force (except some IPS officers) is Marathi,” he writes. “You have an idea of the way in which Maharashtra and the Marathi language is being strangled in Maharashtra by bhaiyyas and some baniyas”. He then appeals to their consciences before they move against MNS workers. “Will you and your families like it in case the Marathi language and Maharashtra die at the hands of these bhaiyyas and baniyas?” he asks.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link above)

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