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Lalu seeks 'stringent action' against Raj Thackeray

October 21, 2008 15:09 IST

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Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today demanded "stringent action" against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray [Images], saying that arrest is not enough to deter him from spreading his campaign against north Indians.

"Raj Thackeray is repeatedly organising attacks on North Indians. So by just arresting him is not enough and more stringent action should be taken against him," Prasad told reporters one the sidelines of a railway seminar.

Terming Thackeray as the leader of antisocial elements, Prasad said he is spreading "hatred and divisive campaign" against north Indians which is not good for a secular democracy. "Even Dalits were not spared and attacked by his men," he added.

Clubbing MNS with the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief reiterated his demand for banning both the organisations. "Like the Bajrang Dal, Thackeray's party is also spearheading a hatred campaign and both should be banned," he said.

Prasad announced that those students who could not appear in the railway examination due to the disruption created by the MNS, would be allowed to appear again.

A date for re-examination would be announced soon, said Prasad.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh [Images] felt that Thackeray could be out on bail soon and non-Maharashtrians could be targeted again.

Congress MP Priya Dutt said by arresting only Thackeray, attacks on north Indians could not be stopped.

Paswan, Union minister for steel, chemicals and fertilisers, said, "Thackeray will be out on bail soon and again indulge in violent activities. The Centre should take steps like use of Article 355 or something similar to control the situation in Maharashtra..

The prevailing situation in the state was "dangerous" and the administration has "failed" to do anything, he said.

SP general secretary Amar Singh described Thackeray's arrest as a "reactionary" step by the Maharashtra government.

"Raj Thackeray's arrest by Mumbai police was a reactionary step and by afternoon he would be released, and no action will be taken against him," he said.

Accusing state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil of playing the "divide and rule" game, Singh said they will never benefit from it. "The state government is playing the divide and rule game even as Raj Thackeray and his goons have been on a rampage. He will be released from custody by afternoon and his men will again start attacking north Indians," Singh said.

He said Maharashtra is an integral part of the country and Maharashtrians are loved by everybody, just like people from other parts of the country.

"Even President Pratibha Patil [Images] is from Maharashtra, and still this (attack on north Indians) is happening in the state," he said.

Congress MP Dutt, while reacting to the news of the MNS chief's arrest, felt that despite this step, attacks on non-Maharastrians will not stop.

"This is ongoing...such attacks will not stop. Today, north Indians are being targeted, tomorrow people from other regions could be attacked. Such types of incidents should not be allowed to take place, and leaders cutting across party lines have condemned such incidents."

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