Indian politicians arrested for inciting hatred

Other News Materials 13 February 2008 17:32 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Indian police on Wednesday arrested two politicians in the western state of Maharashtra for inciting enmity between communities while additional security forces fanned out in several towns to prevent any violence from their supporters.

Raj Thackeray, leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS - Build a New Maharashtra Warriors), was arrested from his home in Mumbai, the police said.

The arrest came several days after charges were registered against him under Indian laws that forbid remarks inciting hatred between communities or ethnic groups and provocation with intent to cause riot.

Thackeray's remarks that people from northern India who had made their home in Mumbai and other towns of Maharashtra were depriving local people of jobs led to days of violence against migrants largely from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states beginning February 3, PTI and IANS news agencies reported.

MSN workers also clashed with supporters of the Samajwadi Party, which has its main support base in Uttar Pradesh.

Among those Thackeray targeted in his verbal tirade were Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan who is originally from Uttar Pradesh. Bachchan's wife Jaya was elected to the Indian Parliament's house of elders by the Samajwadi Party.

Police on Wednesday also arrested Abu Asum Azmi of the Samjawadi Party on similar charges of inciting hatred. He was released on bail.

There were incidents of sporadic violence in Mumbai by MNS supporters following the arrests, NDTV television network reported. Some stone-pelting incidents were reported from neighbouring Nashik town where several fruit vendors from northern India were attacked on Tuesday.

The police had made preventive arrests of more than 1,800 MSN supporters since Tuesday in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and other towns, PTI news agency reported.

Federal and state police forces fanned out in Mumbai and other towns in a bid to prevent any violence following the arrests.

Thackeray launched the MNS in 2006 after parting ways with another regional party known as the Shiv Sena.

The MNS ideology is not much different from the parent party, which believes that Maharashtrians are superior in race and culture to others in India and deserve more rights in the state than the migrants.

Thackeray has denied inciting violence and his lawyer said he would be applying for bail.