Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray was on Wednesday charge-sheeted along with 20 other party members, in a case pertaining to an attack on north Indian applicants appearing for a Railway Recruitment Board exam. The MNS chief appeared before the Bandra court on Wednesday.
This is the first charge sheet against Mr. Thackeray. It relates to an incident of October 19, 2008, at Chetna college in Bandra (East), which served as a centre for the Board exam.
According to the first information report a group of MNS activists, barged into the centre and shouting “MNS Zindabad.” They snatched away exam sheets from candidates and tore them. They demanded that candidates from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar leave the centre, failing which they would be killed, thus attempting to create a rift between Hindi and Marathi speaking people.
Mr. Thackeray has been charge-sheeted under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections, 141, 142, 143, 145, 146, 147, 149 for unlawful assembly and rioting.
Some of the more serious sections like 152 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot), 153 (for provocation with intent to cause riot), 153 (a) (promoting enmity between groups), 153 (b) (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) have been invoked.
Other sections include 336 (endangering life), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 352 and 353 for assault or criminal force, 425 and 426 for causing mischief, 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and provisions of the Criminal Amendment Act 7.
The charge sheet runs into 75 pages and contains statements of 30 witnesses. The hearing in the matter has been scheduled for September 13 next year.
Most of the witness statements document the slogans such as ‘MNS Zindabad,’ ‘Raj Thackeray Zindabad,’ ‘Raj Thackeray go ahead,’ ‘we are with you and must obey Raj’s command; must stop the exam, because everyone is from Bihar and UP.’
Some witnesses have stated that the agitators tore exam papers of up to 10 to 15 candidates. They pushed and bullied those who opposed them and chased students out of the exam hall.
Prashant Chavan, Diwakar Suvarna, Abukalam Rehman, Lakshmikant Waradkar, Milind Rane, Vihay Gonzari are among the other accused.