A day after Raj Thackeray dared the state to arrest him – “Arrest me if you can” – the government of Maharashtra went ahead and did exactly that. Three hours past midnight, Mumbai Police swooped down at a government guest house in Ratnagiri and arrested the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief along with some of his supporters. It was the beginning of a long day for the MNS chief, as well as for harried citizens all across the state. The Centre’s threat to invoke Article 355, a censure to the state, finally forced the state to act. Despite preventive arrests of nearly 1,900 people, violence hit the streets. Raj’s supporters went on a rampage, pelting stones at shops and vehicles and forcing office-goers to return home. The state administration, which has faced criticism for being allegedly soft on Raj Thackeray, was finally forced to go on the front foot. On the other hand, even now, the government is sleeping on a file, sent to it by Mumbai police, seeking permission to prosecute Raj. The file was sent more than six months ago. In February, Vikhroli police had registered a case against Raj after he made provocative speeches inciting communal violence. Since the case was registered under section 153A (promoting enmity between communities) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Mumbai police required sanction from the state government to prosecute Raj. During a press meet, the media also questioned the Police Commissioner why other more applicable sections like violation of constitution were not filed against Raj Thackeray. This gives lie to the government claim that it would leave no stone unturned to crackdown on MNS for taking law in its hands The Mumbai Police have sent an advisory note to all TV channels not to play up the violent activities of the supporters of Raj Thackeray. MNS activists had resorted to violence following the arrest of Raj. Images of the violence were being carried by TV channels throughout the day. According to the police chief, when TV channels show acts of violence repeatedly, it only adds to the public fury and discomfort. It worsens the law and order situation even though the vandalism may not be of such a great extent. When visuals are repeated, the footages give a wrong impression about the situation in the city.
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