Gun-toting youth shot down in Mumbai bus, Thackeray’s security restored (Second Lead)

October 27th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj ThackerayMumbai/Nagpur, Oct 27 (IANS) Mumbai Police Monday shot down a gun-toting youth from Bihar in a city bus after he fired indiscrinimately and threatened to kill MNS chief Raj Thackeray, adding a new dimension to the violent campaign against migrant workers in Maharashtra.While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar questioned the police action, Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil justified it, and the government restored Raj Thackeray’s whittled down security.

Additional Police Commissioner Sadanand Date said the youth was carrying an illegal weapon and had opened indiscriminate firing in a public place, and that he was killed in a police operation.

The 25-year-old man, Rahul Raj boarded the double-decker city bus plying on route No. 332 between Kurla and Andheri at Saki Naka stop around 10 a.m. and went to the upper deck.

When the upper deck conductor Mahendra M. Ghule asked him to buy a ticket, he refused to do so and instead whipped out a revolver and pointed it at his head, a spokesman of the public transport service BEST said.

Raj also produced a chain and tied up one of the 25-odd commuters to a seat and pushed Ghule to a back seat in the bus.

As the other shocked commuters raised a hue and cry, Raj fired in the air, even as the conductor on the lower deck, Shivaji M. Borade, told driver A.S. Khan to take the bus to safety, the spokesman said.

Three policemen, alerted by conductor and the screaming commuters rushed to the bus near the Bail Bazaar police outpost. Seeing Raj brandishing a revolver, they summoned additional force.

Using a loudspeaker, the police ordered Rahul to surrender, but he fired shots in the air and raised slogans of “Jai Bihar, Jai Patna” - in reaction to the Maharshta Navnirman Sena (MNS) campaign against migrant workers, especially from Bihar, in Maharashtra.

In the retaliatory police firing, Raj sustained several bullet injuries and was rushed to the Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar but pronounced dead there.

One commuter, 25-year-old Manoj M. Bhagat, sustained injuries in the cross-firing and was admitted to hospital.

Later in the afternoon, the BEST announced a reward of Rs.5,000 to the two conductors - Ghule and Borade - who were instrumental in saving the lives of the commuters.

While the state government justified the police action, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar criticised it.

Speaking in Nagpur, Patil defended the Mumbai Police and said shooting the youth down was the right action in the given situation to save the lives of other bus passengers.

Patil, who holds the home portfolio, told reporters that any other hot-head imperiling the lives of people would be dealt with in a similar manner.

Nitish Kumar, in New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appeal for safety and security of Biharis in Maharashtra during the next week’s Chhath festival, said the police should have apprehended the youth instead of killing him.

“From the TV clippings, it seemed that he could easily have been overpowered and arrested by the police instead of shooting him down,” said Nitish Kumar.

Rattled by the shocking incident, the state government restored the highest security cover, Z-category, for Raj Thackeray.

Last Tuesday, following his arrest in a case of violence, Thackeray’s security was reduced to Y-category, a state government official told IANS.

The state decided to “restore with immediate effect” the Z-category security accorded to Thckaeray in view of the threat perceptions, he said.

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