Curfew in Kalyan, Raj Thackeray’s wife holds sit-in protest (Lead)

October 22nd, 2008 - 1:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj ThackerayMumbai, Oct 22 (IANS) Indefinite curfew was clamped Wednesday in most parts of Kalyan town where Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is being held in a police lock-up after being arrested for inciting violence against North Indians. Thackeray’s wife was staging a sit-in to demand a meeting with him with party workers in attendance, an official said.The police said Thackeray’s wife Sharmila could meet Raj, but she demanded that party office-bearers must also be allowed to meet him. The police refused to allow that.

The police baton charged Raj supporters who defied the curfew and came out in large groups on the roads leading to Kalyan court. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The authorities have also deployed Rapid Action Force (RAF) and State Reserve Police (SRP) to help the local administration maintain law and order.

The town in neighbouring Thane district, about 70 km from Mumbai, was rocked by group clashes leading to police baton charge, widespread arson, damage to private and public property, damage to the railway station and general mayhem as the MNS chief was brought there Tuesday evening.

Raj was taken there to face police charges in a case of attacks on north Indian candidates who had come to Kalyan to appear for railway recruitment examinations last Sunday.

Since the night magistrate was not available, Raj spent his first night in the fortress-like precincts of Manpada police station in the sister city of Dombivli, angering his supporters.

Raj has been charged under Indian Penal Code sections 423, 427, 535, 107, 106 (II), 506(II), pertaining to rioting, assault, damage to private and public properties, obstructing government servants from doing their duties, and section 153(A), which relates to provoking hatred among communities.

Though he spent a quiet night in the lock-up, his supporters continued to wreak havoc in the city, forcing authorities to clamp a curfew “for as long as necessary”, said an official at the police control room.

Several shopkeepers of Mumbai, large parts of Navi Mumbai, Thane city and district preferred to keep their shutters down for the second consecutive day, apprehending violence.

However, suburban trains and BEST buses were functioning as usual here, though many office-goers decided to take the day off.

The 40-year-old Thackeray - an amateur cartoonist known till less than a year ago essentially as Bal Thackeray’s nephew who split from the Shiv Sena to form the MNS - was charged with provoking hatred among communities as well rioting, assault and damage to property after his supporters Sunday added another chapter to their campaign against non-Maharashtrians.

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