Raj Thackeray makes emotional plea to Marathi policemen


Mummbai : Anticipating a showdown with Mumbai Police over its campaign against shops not having signboards in Marathi, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has made an emotionalappeal to the Marathi police personnel.

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In a letter addressed to police personnel released at an MNS office-bearers’ meeting Wednesday afternoon, Thackeray said that despite the state and civic body warning of action against shops not putting up Marathi signboards, many were resisting the law of the city, terming it as unjust.

“The law and order of the city depends on you (Marathi policemen). My party’s fight is against the trampling of Marathi language and culture in the state, which can benefit even you and your families,” Thackeray said in his letter to the police personnel.

He said that educated MNS youth workers were taking to the streets to preserve Marathi identity.

“The next time you pick up a baton to hit them or lock them up prior to a beating, ask yourselves and your families if what these boys are doing is morally wrong,” he said.

He urged them to search their conscience before filing cases against MNS activists, whether saving the state from the clutches of “these outsiders, who have no pride in the state and its culture” was not worth giving up a comfortable life for.

In an emotional close, he said: “Remember, your actions would determine whether other youths will come forward to take this struggle forward or not. That is all I have to say. How you decide to act is left to you.”

Police have deployed additional security in sensitive areas of Dadar in central Mumbai and neighbouring Thane where the MNS activists attacked shops Tuesday.

A deadline given by the MNS to all shops and establishments to compulsorily display signboards in Marathi language also, ends Wednesday midnight.

At his closed-door meeting, apart from “bhaiyyas” – as Raj refers to north Indians, particularly those from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – the MNS widened its scope to include “baniyas”, meaning the city’s business and trading community, in its pro-Marathi campaign.

The reference to “baniyas” came a day after his activists forced an umbrella organization of the business community, Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Associaton (FRTWA), to abort its meeting, which was addressed by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and criminal lawyer Majeed A. Memon Tuesday.

A police official said the meeting, called to discuss its strategy vis-à-vis the MNS demand, was construed and targeted as an “anti-Raj Thackeray gathering”.

Meanwhile, barring a few shops scattered across the city, which have put up new signboards in Marathi and other languages, it was business as usual for the rest that ignored the MNS ultimatum of Aug 28.