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Mob torches former CM’s home

Mumbai, Nov. 23: Angry Nationalist Congress Party workers torched the house of former chief minister Narayan Rane in a violent reaction to the murder of party leader Satyavijay Bhise, who was killed by alleged Shiv Sena activists last night.

The mob attacked Rane’s house, in Kankavli, Sindhudurg district, when the Sena leader was away in Aurangabad for a campaign against Maharashtra’s ruling Democratic Front, of which the NCP is a part. Rane is leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly.

The assault on the house followed large-scale violence and arson that broke out after news of Bhise’s murder spread. Many shops were burnt and looted.

Bhise had been elected head of the Kalsuli gram panchayat, elections to which were held on November 14. But Sena activists alleged that Bhise used strong-arm tactics to manipulate the results.

Bhise was attacked late last night. While three of his associates were severely injured and have been taken to a hospital, Bhise died on the spot. Sena leader Rajan Teli has been arrested in connection with the attack.

With the situation deteriorating through the day, prohibitory orders have been clamped in the town and two companies of the State Reserve Police force rushed in along with police parties from Raigad, Kolhapur and other adjoining places.

Rane has rushed to Kankavli. Reports coming in say his bungalow has been damaged extensively. The mob that attacked his house also burnt two of his cars parked outside. A petrol pump, reportedly owned by Rane, was also razed. The mob did not even spare the fire fighters and damaged a fire engine. Police claimed the situation was still tense but under control. Around 50 people have been arrested.

The Opposition condemned the attack on Rane and said the ruling front had broken an unwritten code in “launching an attack on a senior leader who was not even involved in the incident”.

Senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari said the attack on Rane’s house was “sponsored by the ruling alliance” and demanded that deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who holds the home portfolio, should immediately resign for his “failure” to maintain law and order.

The Opposition parties will come out on the streets to protest against government “inaction”, Gadkari said in a statement. It would be within the legal framework to book the culprits for allegedly killing a political worker, but it was unfortunate to attack Rane’s house, he added.

Senior police officials are camping in the area fearing retaliatory violence as the Sena has a strong presence in Kankavli.

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