Thackeray returns home after bail, supporters jubilant (Roundup)

October 22nd, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj ThackerayMumbai, Oct 22 (IANS) Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, whose arrest triggered vandalism and unrest across the state, returned home Wednesday evening to a hero’s welcome from his riotous band of supporters after a court granted him interim bail till Friday. He secured the bail in a case filed against him by the Government Railway Police for MNS activists damaging the Kalyan railway station premises and staging a rail blockade for a few hours Tuesday.

With this, Raj secured bail in four different cases - one in Mumbai and three in Thane - and successfully foiled efforts by a desperate Maharashtra government to put him behind bars.

The cases in Thane relate to Kalyan, Dombivli and Government Railway Police, Kalyan. Alone with Mumbai, in none of the cases have the courts granted the prosecution plea seeking Raj’s police custody. The interim anticipatory bail application will now be heard Friday.

A victorious Raj left Kalyan shortly afterwards and returned home just before 6 p.m. to a rousing welcome by his supporters. Looking weary after a night in the lock-up, he signalled his gratitude to his supporters and promised to meet up with them Thursday.

“We are very happy and our supporters are celebrating all over the state,” MNS spokesman Vageesh Saraswat told IANS.

Several rounds of firecrackers were burst in different parts of Mumbai and Thane and other places as news of his securing interim anticipatory bail started trickling in.

Raj had spent his first night in Dombivli’s Manpada police lock-up, where he was shifted from Mumbai Tuesday evening. Early that morning, he had been nabbed from the government guest house in Ratnagiri, around 250 km from Mumbai in a pre-dawn swoop by the Mumbai and Ratnagiri police.

His arrest, following his hate campaign against non-Maharashtrians whom he blamed for depriving locals of jobs and livelihood, sparked off violence in several parts of Maharashtra even as anti-MNS protests were witnessed in different parts of Bihar.

Thackeray’s wife also staged a sit-in to demand a meeting with him.

Kalyan, about 70 km from Mumbai, was rocked by clashes leading to police baton charge, widespread arson, damage to private and public property, as the MNS chief was brought there Tuesday evening.

Raj was taken there to face police charges in a case of attacks on largely Bihari 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.

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 essentially as Bal Thackeray’s nephew till less than a year ago when he 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 violent chapter to their hate campaign against non-Maharashtrians.

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