MUMBAI: The Mumbai police have registered cases against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi for allegedly making inflammatory speeches that led to violence on February 3.
According to the police, the case against Thackeray was filed at the Vikhroli police station while that against Azmi was filed at Shivaji Park. Thackeray had delivered his speech at Vikhroli while Azmi had delivered his at Shivaji Park.
The cases were filed under sections 153 (needlessly or recklessly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between groups on the basis of place of birth, residence, etc), 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integration), and 117 (abetting the commission of an offence by the public) of the Indian Penal Code.
The police have also applied section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to both politicians and warned them not to hold any press conference or rally in the next seven days. But MNS leader Shishir Shinde said Thackeray would flout the order and if the police sent any notice to him not to address a gathering, it would be challenged in a court of law. “This is not an emergency,” he said.
Joint commissioner of police (law and order) KL Prasad said, “We reached the conclusion that the cases are viable and started investigations last night. Arrests will be made as per the evidence and action will be taken. All the IPC sections are cognisable and non-bailable and arrest in such cases is mandatory. Three years is the maximum punishment prescribed.”
Prasad refused to say when Thackeray or Azmi would be arrested. But he said the cases would be investigated fairly without succumbing to pressure.
“We have studied the available evidence and want to make strong cases,” he said. “The delay in registering the cases was caused because we were in touch with our legal sources, who told us the cases were viable.”
Prasad said he had got no report on the matter from the state advocate-general. He also said action had been taken against those involved in the violence.
“Hundreds of preventive arrests have been made,” he said. “If the situation gets tense we may call in additional forces.”
Asked about the FIR lodged by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh against Raj Thackeray, Prasad said, “Investigation is on. We have requested Singh to give us evidence or those channels that aired the footage of Thackeray threatening him.”