The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mumbai, Nov. 3 (PTI): The Samajwadi Party today demanded the immediate arrest of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray for his allegedly provocative speeches and accused the state government of double standards for not implementing the findings of the Srikrishna Commission into the communal riots of 1992-93.

Samajwadi’s Maharashtra unit president Abu Asim Azmi said merely registering cases against Thackeray under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code would not suffice and the state government should immediately arrest him.

Cases had been registered against Thackeray in the past but they were withdrawn by the BJP-Sena government.

Referring to a recent case filed against the Sena chief for openly demanding formation of suicide squads by Hindus to counter terrorist designs, Azmi said this would also be withdrawn like the others.

“What is the use of filing cases when no action is taken against Thackeray,” Azmi asked, accusing the deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal of adopting double standards in this regard.

Referring to Bhujbal’s comment of not taking action against Thackeray because it could lead to a law and order problem, the SP chief said: “If the government is scared of Thackeray, it should resign on moral grounds”.

The Samajwadi Party chief hit out at the Democratic Front government for its failure to meet its pre-poll promises including the implementation of the Srikrishna Commission inquiry findings.

“Despite such promises, riot cases were not reopened,” Azmi said.

He alleged that witnesses who were to depose before the Srikrishna Commission were being threatened with death and demanded immediate protection for them.

Commenting on the performance of the DF government in the last three years, he said communal riots had occurred in 65 places during its tenure, while in the previous regime of BJP-Sena government, clashes between communities were witnessed only in three places.

Azmi also hit out at the BJP for dividing the people on lines of religion. “They are trying to create a Gujarat-type situation in Maharashtra,” he alleged.

The Samajwadi Party president expressed resentment over handling of communal tension by the DF government. “In Malegaon recently, police fired at members of the minority community who were merely distributing pamphlets to ban American products,” he said.

Similarly, a ban on Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi) was uncalled for when there is no concrete evidence of its indulging in subversive activities, Azmi said.

He also questioned the VHP for interpreting Islamic laws and the Quran. “Who are they to interpret religious issues. Are they competent to do so,” Azmi asked.

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