Mumbai, Aug. 23: Last evening’s gang rape of a photojournalist today set off a bout of political stone-throwing in Maharashtra.
The BJP, Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for state home minister R.R. Patil’s scalp.
“If you can’t improve the law-and-order situation in Mumbai, you must resign,” state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, talking to reporters many of whom had spent the afternoon protesting the rape at Mumbai’s Hutatma Chowk.
Almost every party and political leader, from the government and the Opposition, expressed regret at Mumbai’s decline as a safe city for women.
“Mumbai is no longer the safe city it used to be,” said Fadnavis. Even Nationalist Congress Party leaders like Vidya Chavan joined in but stopped short of criticising party comrade Patil.
Raj Thackeray was at his most vitriolic, demanding the ouster of Patil as well as “outsiders” before exhorting people to vote him to power if they wanted law and order to improve in the city.
“There should be laws to monitor and do background checks on people who come with fake identities to this city or land here to hide in Mumbai after committing a crime in another state,” he told The Telegraph.
The Shiv Sena, headed by Raj’s estranged cousin and political arch-rival Uddhav Thackeray, staged protests outside the police station handling the gang-rape case. The party’s women activists protested outside another police station demanding stringent punishment for the rapists.
“The incident brings shame to Mumbai and to humanity,” Uddhav told reporters.
Congress chief minister Prithviraj Chavan defended Patil, saying it was not fair to ask him to resign. He announced that the state government would pay the medical expenses of the rape victim and her male colleague.