Atul Chandak, general secretary of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the party's chief coordinator in Nashik, was arrested on charges of promoting enmity on Wednesday, in connection with a campaign against North Indians in September 2009.
Chandak was detained by the Satpur police at about 9pm, as he set out from his residence to attend an event of the Nashik festival organised by the Bhujbal Foundation.
Chandak was taken to the civil hospital for a medical check up which is part of police procedure. On Thursday, he was produced before a local court and released on bail.
The charges relate to posters that were put up by the MNS in Nashik which declared that North Indians should not be employed.
This has been a major thrust of the party's programme seeking preference for Maharashtrians in the state and has often resulted in assaults on people of North Indian origin. Chandak is in the hotels business.
Others named in the case are Nitin Bhosale, MLA, and MNS activists Hemant Dixit, Sheela Bhagwat and Shashikant Ahirrao. They have been charged under sections 153 (A) 1, 505 (2) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code for acts creating enmity.
MNS leader Vasant Gite, who is also an MLA, described the police action as a political plot.
Chandak himself said he was surprised by the police action, more than four years after the incident. He said he had cooperated with the cops at the time and also gave his statement. “The role by the police raises suspicion,” Chandak said.
The police department works under the home ministry which is headed by RR Patil of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Reacting to the suggestion that the police action was motivated, NCP leader Jayant Jadhav, who is also a member of the legislative council, said police were following the normal legal process and there was no pressure on them to act from his party.