Sena not apologetic over Thane incident

MUMBAI, AUG. 30. Mr. Vijayapat Singhania, head of the JK Group of industries, has stood up and demanded an apology from the Shiv Sena for the havoc wrought on the Thane hospital run by his group on Sunday last. All he got was the party president, Mr. Bal Thackeray's comment that it was ``unbecoming'', proof of the lack of concern in the party.

The other Sena leaders, especially Mr. Raj Thackeray and his cousin, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, took a different line. Compensation for the losses had to come from insurance, and whatever happened that night was because of the outrage felt by the Sainiks at the death of their leader Anand Dighe. Mr. Uddhav Thackeray even spoke of seeking damages for Dighe's death due to possible negligence.

For instance, addressing a memorial meeting in Thane on Thursday, Mr. Raj Thackeray said: ``We will pay for the losses but give us back our dead leader!'' This has not amused anyone because the main question of the party's culpability has been ignored. It is unlikely that the Sena will do anything to ease the pain of the hospital's founders.

The hospital, named after Mr. Singhania's mother, has been a major facility in Thane, which is contiguous to Mumbai. It was damaged beyond belief by Shiv Sainiks after Anand Dighe died due to a heart attack following injuries, including a fracture, sustained in a road accident.

The Singhanias now wonder if the hospital should be refurbished if the people of the city do not need it.

Most of the Shiv Sainiks who attacked the hospital, even as the deceased leader's body was still inside, and forced the patients to flee for their lives are residents of Thane.

The fact that they were destroying a key health facility in the area apparently did not register on them, and if the Singhanias decide not to resurrect the hospital the city would be poorer for that.

Meanwhile, Mr. B. G. Deshmukh, former Union Cabinet Secretary and a social activist now, said he was examining whether a public interest litigation could be filed in the High Court to recover the damages from the Shiv Sena.

``This would be a test case not only to put the Shiv Sena on notice but even other political parties and their activists to be on guard in future. It is high time such action was taken.''