21 Oct : In a pre-dawn arrest, Raj Thackeray was picked up by police and faced a litany of charges including inciting violence and will spend the night in a lock-up despite getting bail in one case sparking sporadic violence in Mumbai and parts of Maharashtra.
Facing intense pressure to rein in Raj for his anti-north Indian tirade, the Maharashtra Government finally effected the arrest at 3.30 AM in Ratnagiri, about 200 kms from Mumbai, in four separate cases of attack on ‘outsider’ candidates appearing for a railway recruitment exam by MNS activists here on Sunday.
Raj, who had dared the Deshmukh government to arrest him, was produced before the metropolitan court in Bandra which granted him bail in one of the cases in the suburb but police quickly took him back in custody for a similar case in neigbouring Dombivali, in Thane district and whisked him away.
Since he could not reach in time, Raj will be produced before a court in Kalyan on Wednesday and will have to spend the night in Manpada police station in Dombivali, his lawyers said.
Raj has four cases registered against him including those at Kherwadi and Kanjurmarg in Mumbai and ones at Thane and Dombivali, SPP in the Kherwadi case Majid Memon said.
In Kherwadi case, Thackeray has been charged with provoking riot, assaulting public servants, endangering public safety of others, causing mischief and damage to property.
Shortly after the arrest, MNS activisits went on a rampage in parts of Mumbai, Nashik, Solapur and Kolhapur attacking shops and pelting stones at scores of buses and taxis.
A toll booth in Mulund was targetted and one of the counters was set on fire, police said.
Police made about 2,000 preventive arrests and resorted to lathi charge at several places.
Incidents of stonepelting and attack on shops were reported in Kalyan-Thane area where violence by MNS activists erupted late in the evening.
In Kherwadi (Bandra) case, Raj was given bail on a surety of Rs 15,000 with a condition that he will not make provocative speeches, will not intimidate witnesses and attend police station for two weeks for probe.
MNS activists indulged in heavy stonepelting even at Bandra court premises where Police resorted to lathicharge to control the situation.
Raj’s arrest came within hours of him justifying the attacks on north Indian youth on Sunday and warning the State government that it will have to regret the consequences if the police action came.
"If I am arrested, the entire Maharashtra will be set on fire," he had said addressing a meeting in Chiplun on Monday evening.
Several shops downed their shutters in this metropolis as a precautionary measure while schools remained closed.
Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil denied any political pressure on the government for his arrest. "He created a law and order problem and hence action was taken," Patil said.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said that nobody was above the law.
Soon after arrival in Mumbai at around 11 am, Raj was taken to the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police station. As he reached Kurla, supporters waiting at Bandra court started pelting stones.
He was finally taken to court room number 32 at the Bandra Metropolitan magistrate at around 2.45 pm.
Reporters were not allowed inside the court. The first news that trickled out was court had given him judicial custody till 4th November, the day on which Chhath Puja falls.
Soon afterwards it was learnt that he had been given bail in Kherwadi case, but was being taken to Dombivali in connection with another case.
Samajwadi Party, led by local leader Abu Azmi had threatened to perform Chhath Puja, which MNS is opposed to.
Even at Dombivali police station, MNS workers had already assembled. As it became clear that Raj could not be produced in Kalyan court on Tuesday, he made an appeal through his lawyer to the MNS workers to maintain peace.