MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today defied the police to take out a five-km procession from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan to protest the August 11 violence where two people were killed and over 40 injured in Mumbai.
Addressing a 40,000-strong rally at Azad Maidan, Raj Thackeray took on the Maharashtra government saying that it failed to take action against the mischief mongers who were responsible for the recent violence in the city.
The MNS chief demanded the resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil and Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik for their inaction to bring the culprits to book. He also alleged that Mumbai police was aware of the Azad Maidan violence but failed to take necessary actions to stop it.
Spewing fire, the MNS chief said that Mumbai had become a den of foreigners, particularly Bangladeshis. He blamed the home minister and the Police Commissioner for not taking action against illegal immigrants who were causing trouble in the nation's financial capital and elsewhere.
During his speech, Raj Thackeray held up a Bangladeshi passport and said that he had 'found it at Azad Maidan on August 11. It is a Bangladeshi passport. Mumbai has become a den of Bangladeshis.'
He also questioned the Maharashtra government over why was it that action was taken only against him when he made a speech and not against other leaders who gave incendiary speeches.
Speaking in his usual aggressive style, Thackeray warned that similar outbreaks of violence, blamed on Muslim groups who were protesting against attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and Assam, would not be tolerated.
Thackeray flashed what he said was a green colour passport found at the venue Aug 11 purportedly belonging to a Bangladeshi, and said the Aug 11 gathering had many outsiders who dared to attack police and the media.
"This will not be tolerated and limits cannot be crossed. We will not tolerate anybody who dares to take on Maharashtra," he thundered, drawing huge applause.
The MNS founder leader pointed out that many Muslims came prepared for violence that day armed with iron rods, bamboos and stones. He asked both Patil and Patnaik to resign.
"If they have an ounce of shame, they should immediately quit," Thackeray said to widespread applause from the gathering.
Police had earlier refused permission to MNS to hold the march but gave the green signal for the rally. But MNS supporters hit the streets nevertheless.
An adamant Thackeray said Monday he would take out the procession, with or without police clearance.
Hundreds of security personnel were deployed all along the march route and at the ground.
The marchers raised slogans demanding the resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik for their failure to control the Aug 11 Muslim protest at Azad Maidan.
Tuesday's show of strength crippled parts of Mumbai as police set up road blocks, randomly checked vehicles and diverted traffic.
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