Sunday, July 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Maharashtra borrows forces
Firm on Thackeray’s arrest

NEW DELHI, July 22 (UNI) — Security forces from neighbouring Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are being rushed to Maharashtra following the Centre’s refusal to send additional security forces to tackle any law and order problem that may arise in the event of the arrest of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

Security has been beefed up in the metropolis and several parts of the state which are considered as Sena strongholds ever since the state government gave a go-ahead to the police to prosecute Mr Thackeray for his writings in the party’s mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ during the 1992-93 Mumbai riots.

According to police sources, in addition to two companies of Rapid Action Force, three companies of Central Industrial Security Force and 25 companies of state reserve police deployed as additional reinforcement in Mumbai, four companies of Karnataka State Reserve Police and an equal number of companies of Madhya Pradesh State Armed Police forces had reached earlier this week in response to a request from the state. Some more companies were expected to reach from these neighbouring states following the Deshmukh government’s requests, in the wake of the Centre denying sending additional central security forces, the sources said.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today accused the Shiv Sena-BJP combine of politicising the case against Mr Bal Thackeray and said he has given no assurance to the Centre that the Shiv Sena supremo will not be arrested.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the first meeting of the National Commission on Population here, he however, refused to say if and when Mr Thackeray would be arrested.

“This is a question for the police commissioner to answer. The government has done its job by giving the go-ahead for his prosecution.’’

Mr Deshmukh said he discussed the situation in Maharashtra with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and had given no assurance about not arresting Mr Thackeray.

Mr Vajpayee, while confirming the discussion on Maharashtra refused to comment on the details.

Mr Deshmukh said the Centre was under “political pressure’’ from the Shiv Sena, especially after the “resignation” of the three Shiv Sena ministers. “It is under these compulsions that the Centre is not sending additional forces, as is the normal practice if a demand is made by the state government,’’ he added.

He confirmed that the state government had asked the Centre to make alternative arrangements for protecting central installations as the state forces deployed there were needed by the Maharashtra Government.

Asked about the “delay” in the arrest of Mr Thackeray, Mr Deshmukh said the administration wanted to make full arrangements to protect the life and property of the common man in the light of the “threats” issued by the Shiv Sena of law and order problems.

In a related development scores of Shiv Sainiks were detained here today when they staged a black flag demonstration against Mr Deshmukh protesting the state government’s green signal to prosecute party supremo Bal Thackeray in connection with the 1992-93 Mumbai riots.

A large posse of police personnel, present at the venue, swooped down on the activists and took them away. They were released after some time.

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