Mumbai: A day after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray once again spewed venom against Biharis, calling them "infiltrators" and threatening to drive them out of the state, the newly-appointed Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh on Saturday said that Biharis living in Mumbai are safe.
His statement came after Bihar Chief Secretary Navin Kumar wrote a letter to him asking how a Bihar resident was arrested for his alleged involvement in Mumbai's Azad Maidan violence without following the due process. The Mumbai Crime Branch had, earlier in the week, arrested two rioters responsible for desecrating the Amar Jawan Jyoti during the Azad Maidan violence on August 11. One of the alleged rioter was arrested from Bihar's Sitamarhi on August 27.
Singh, who replaced IPS officer Arup Patnaik in the aftermath of the Azad Maidan violence, said he has not gone through the letter yet. "I am told a letter has come to me from Bihar DGP. But I could not go through the letter because I was away. I know the DGP very well. I don't think there should be any problem. It is not ego problem. They will also help and cooperate. We too will cooperate... all other police forces of this country would cooperate."
When asked about MNS chief Raj Thackeray's comment on Friday, threatening to brand Biharis as infiltrators if Bihar went ahead with its plan to take legal action against Mumbai Police over the vandal's arrest, Singh refused to comment. "I wouldn't like to comment on that because there is a political... If MNS has given a political response to it... but as far as I'm telling you, I don't think there is any problem. If they have written about something, there is some lapse in procedure, we will try to correct it. If they do commit some mistake, I am there to help them."
Abdul Qadir Mohammed Younus Ansari (19) was picked up by the Mumbai Crime Branch on Monday from Sitamarhi in Bihar for vandalising the Amar Jawan Memorial near Azad Maidan during August 11 rioting at a protest called against alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. Two protesters were killed and over 50 injured, mostly policemen and those from the media.
What Raj Thackeray said?
The MNS chief had threatened to brand Biharis as "infiltrators" and force them out of Maharashtra if authorities in Bihar take legal action against Mumbai policemen who picked up a teenager from there without informing their counterparts in that state. Thackeray, whose party has often launched violent campaigns against Hindi-speaking people in Maharashtra, was reacting to a media report that the Bihar Chief Secretary has written to the Mumbai Police Commissioner voicing displeasure over the arrest of the youth for vandalising the martyr's memorial during Azad Maidan protest on August 11.
"The letter says Mumbai police has to get in touch with the Bihar government before picking up any person from their state. If Mumbai crime branch picks up people from their state without the knowledge of the Bihar police they would face legal action," he said referring to the purported latter.
"If the Bihar government tries to become a hurdle in the way of a police investigation, then my party would dub every Bihari in Maharashtra as an infiltrator and would force them to leave the state," an angry Thackeray said.
"The person who desecrated the Amar Jawan memorial was arrested from Bihar. I would like to tell the Bihar chief secretary that because of your state, the crime rate (in Maharashtra) has gone up," he said.
Thackeray also questioned Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's silence on the issue. "Why is Nitish Kumar is not saying anything? Where have the leaders from the state and Delhi gone? Why was the chief secretary not slammed for his remarks," he asked.
The MNS leader also demanded Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil's resignation for failure to control the riots.
Parties slam Thackeray for comments against Biharis
Political parties across the spectrum slammed Thackeray for his 'Bihari' bashing with some demanding that the MNS chief be booked for sedition.
While Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi asked the Centre to take strong action against the MNS chief, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the Thackeray family itself belonged to Bihar and had settled in Dhar in Western Madhya Pradesh from where they migrated to Mumbai. "If you look at the history of Mumbai, then it is a city of fishermen. Rest all have settled there from outside," Singh said.
Shivanand Tiwari, a senior leader of the ruling Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) in Bihar, said the conduct of Thackeray is a challenge to the Constitutional authority.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also criticised Thackeray for his anti-Bihari comments with its spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad saying, "The Constitution permits any Indian to settle anywhere in the country. This is what makes India. We all need to respect that constitutional mandate."
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) spokesman Ramkripal Yadav said people of Bihar have a constitutional right to live in any part of the country including Maharashtra while Bihar PCC President Chaudhary Mehboon Ali Kaiser said he has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan protesting against the remarks by Thackeray.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) general secretary Tariq Anwar accused Thackeray of trying to strengthen his political base in Maharashtra by playing out regional politics.
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ram Vilas Paswan asked the Centre to take stringent action against Thackeray for making inflammatory speeches with an intent to spread communal discord.