The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flare-up fears as Sena cauldron simmers

Mumbai, Nov. 25: The murder of an NCP leader and the subsequent retaliation in which Shiv Sena leader Narayan Rane’s house was razed in Maharashtra is fast taking the shape of an all-out war between the two parties, the fallout of which could be bloody and dangerous.

Police clamped curfew in Kankavli (district Sindhudurg) today as minor but intermittent incidents of violence rocked the town. The government has also ordered a CID inquiry into “all aspects of the incident”.

Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the inquiry would look into all aspects of the violence, including the murder of NCP leader Satyavijay Bhise and the attack on Rane’s house.

Security has been stepped up following reports that Sena activists were forming a “security ring” around Kankavli so that none of the suspects involved in the rampage at Rane’s house could escape.

Hundreds of Sena activists from Mumbai, sources say, have started camping in Kankavli to meet any “eventuality”. Rane, whose house and property was torched by a mob of NCP activists, has been on a dharna in Kankavli, his home town, and has warned that if those responsible for the attack are not arrested immediately he would not be responsible for any retaliatory violence.

The district administration and the government have, meanwhile, acted swiftly to lay the blame for the entire episode at the Sena’s door.

“The police have evidence that Sena activists were involved in the murder of NCP leader Satyavijay Bhise,’’ a senior NCP leader said, adding that there were witnesses who saw two Sena leaders, both of whom have been arrested, leading the attack on Bhise.

Bhise’s family, too, has blamed Rane for the murder that rocked Kankavli. Bala Bhise, brother of the slain NCP leader, said Rane had “indirectly helped” execute the murder. “All the men sent to kill my brother were Rane’s associates,” Bala said. The two Sena activists arrested for Bhise’s murder, Rajan Teli and Milind Dalvi, are believed to be close aides of Rane.

With both the NCP and the Sena taking a belligerent stand, each blaming the other for the flare-up following Bhise’s murder, Kankavli continues to remain tense and in a virtual state of siege.

“Narayan Rane has been taught a lesson on his home turf as the people here have decided not to tolerate his goondagiri anymore,’’ Sandesh Parkar, an NCP leader said.

Parkar, who has openly accused Rane of being part of a conspiracy to eliminate Bhise, added that “in 1991, when Rane got local Congress worker Shridhar Naik killed, the trap was laid for me. Though I survived, Rane has seen to it that life is very difficult for me”.

Rane, on the other hand, alleged that Parkar was part of the mob that set his house on fire last Saturday and warned that matters could deteriorate if the NCP leader was not arrested immediately. Parkar is believed to have gone into hiding fearing a Sena backlash.

As fingers were pointed at Rane, the former chief minister today iterated that Bhise was killed by irate villagers who could not bear his “evil ways” any longer. “The Sena has nothing to do with Bhise’s murder,’’ Rane said, adding: “He regularly molested and had even raped some village women.’’ Rane has apprised deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani of the developments in Kankavli but reportedly refused more security for his protection. “I can take care of my own safety,” Rane said.

Sena leaders have said they will “arrest” those responsible for the attack on Rane if the police failed to do so. The police have arrested 22 people “belonging to all political parties”, and charged seven of them for killing Bhise.

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