The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sena roar at Amar hitback

Mumbai, Dec. 9: The Shiv Sena has again stoked the flames of conflict against north Indians, saying it would not tolerate anyone opposing or violating its sons of the soil campaign. This could result in ugly scenes unlike on previous occasions, because this time, various north Indian groups, rallied by the Samajwadi Party and others, have said they are ready to retaliate.

In a stinging editorial in mouthpiece Saamna, Sena chief Bal Thackeray today said his party would give a fitting reply to those opposing attempts to secure jobs for local youth.

On November 18, the Sena ransacked the Railway Recruitment Board office at Mumbai Central and beat up railway officers, demanding that most of the 2,200 jobs on offer be reserved for Maharashtrians. Recruitment examinations set for November 23 were put off when the Sena threatened to disrupt the tests, to be held in Mumbai and three other centres.

The agitation took a violent turn, with students of north Indian origin being heckled, beaten and forced to return to their respective states without being allowed to appear for the exams. The railway ministry had to postpone the tests indefinitely.

The Sena has vowed to disrupt the exams if their demands are not met.

“Shiv Sainiks are prepared for a tit-for-tat policy,” Thackeray said, fuelling fears that north Indians in Maharashtra may retaliate, leading to disharmony and violence. “Do not compel us to adopt such a (tough) stand that will cost you (north Indians) dearly,” the Sena chief warned.

Thackeray’s statement comes on the heels of Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Abu Asim Azmi promising north Indians at a huge rally that they will be protected. Leaders at the rally said north Indians would keep vigil in areas in which they have a majority, warning that violence against them would provoke more violence.

“Don’t take us for granted, a time might come when we will be unable to keep quiet — that will be bad for everyone,” the Samajwadi leaders said.

On November 24, two persons claiming to be Sena activists assaulted Munna Tripathi, one of the leaders of a north Indian umbrella group, as he headed to court to file a petition protesting the Sena’s stand against people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Sena activists reportedly said party leader Raj Thackeray had ordered that no one should be allowed to move court.

Sena chief Thackeray dared Samajwadi activists to hold similar rallies in Assam, where Biharis continue to be attacked by locals for depriving them of railway jobs. He clarified that his party’s agitation aimed at safeguarding jobs for locals and was not directed at Biharis and UP-ites.

“The right to jobs is a constitutional provision but it doesn’t mean that locals will be stripped of their right to livelihood,” Thackeray said. “Mumbai has already accepted people from other states residing in the metropolis prior to 1995 but it doesn’t mean the influx should continue endlessly.”

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