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Home > India > News > PTI

Azmi's counter to Raj: helpline, self-defence course for migrants

May 05, 2008 18:46 IST

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Accusing the Maharashtra government of being hand-in-glove with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Samajwadi Party member of Parliament Abu Asim Azmi  announced setting up of a helpline for north Indians and proposed to start self-defence courses for migrants on Monday.

"In order to fracture the Shiv Sena's votebank, I suspect Congress-Nationalist Congress Party has a secret alliance with Raj Thackeray, due to which they are not taking action against him even after his provocative speech (on Saturday)," Azmi told reporters in Mumbai.

Maintaining that the taxi drivers felt "intimidated" after Raj Thackeray's rally on Saturday, Azmi announced the setting up of a telephone helpline for such drivers and also proposed to train north Indians in using 'lathis' for self defence.

During a rally on Saturday, Raj had accused the north Indians of trying to "invade" Maharashtra's culture by intimidating the locals. He had asked everyone to speak in Marathi with the pre-dominantly north Indian taxi drivers and report the matter to the MNS if they do not comply.

Equating Raj with Adolph Hitler [Images] for trying to divide the people, Azmi announced that he would be launching an agitation against the MNS leader at the historic August Kranti Maidan in two days.

Azmi said he would file a criminal defamation case against Raj for referring to him as a 1993 serial blasts accused when the Supreme Court had discharged him in the case.

"I am representing the 50 lakh poor north Indians staying in Mumbai," Azmi said when asked if he is trying to vitiate the atmosphere.

Reacting to Raj's allegations that the north Indians are indulging in "dadagiri" (bullying), Azmi said, "Nobody will stop Raj if he goes to Uttar Pradesh and conducts a rally or any other function."

"Raj must be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. I pity the state government which looks on as a mute spectator at a time when the Constitution is challenged by Raj," Azmi said, adding that the latter must not have been allowed to conduct the rally.

As a solution to the outsiders versus sons-of-the-soil issue in Mumbai, Azmi asked the Union government to formally declare the city as the 'economic capital of the country', thereby giving it a special status.

"I am not talking of taking Mumbai away from Maharashtra. By such a declaration, people's movements in and out of the city will be easier and a Parliamentary committee can directly look into issues like attacks on outsiders," he said.

Azmi also rubbished the pro-Marathi stance of Raj as "hypocritical", challenging him to employ 100 per cent Maharashtrians in the redevelopment of Kohinoor Mills and questioned if Raj will give the premises there at a concessional rate to Marathis.

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