I landed in Mumbai this morning only to be greeted by the news of the arrest of Mr.Raj Thackray, late in the night. Fellow travellers on the flight from Delhi were talking in hushed tones about how Mumbai will come to a standstill, thanks to the thugs of Mr. Thackray running amuck.
Sure enough, as soon as I stepped out of the terminal, I noticed a strange kind of calm all around. There were hardly any cabbies jostling for fares and Mumbai seemed to be uncharacterstically orderly. After a while I was able to hail a cab, who agreed to take me to my destination albeit at a whooping Rs. 400. (the normal fare is Rs. 150)
‘Sir, all of us are scared of Mr. Thackray and his goons. Taking the taxis out is fraught with risk. You never know when someone starts pelting stones or worse set the cab afire’ said Ramnaresh, my taxi driver who as it turned out hails from Ballia in Eastern UP. With a start I realised that Ramnaresh is exactly the kind of guy Mr. Thackray and his cohorts are targetting.
Mr. Thackray is one of those firebrand public figurs (to call him a leader would really be an insult), who have thrived on dividing people in Mumbai along ethnic lines. His current ire is against those who have migrated to Mumbai from North Indian states. He has been spewing unadulterated venom against those from Bihar and UP, two of the poorest and most backward provinces in India.
Mr. Thackray has not even spared the mighty Bacchhans. When I was here last, in end Sept, he was busy humiliating Mrs Jaya Bacchhan for speaking in Hindi rather than the local Marathi at a function in Mumbai. He also took pot shots at the Mumbai’s police commissoner, who also happened to be a non Marathi. The language Mr. Thackray uses is fit for the gutters and shows his cultural orientation.
A few days back Mr. Thackray’s goons beat up job aspirants appearing for a competitive examination for low level jobs in Indian Railways. His grouse was that North Indians are cornering precious jobs in Maharashtra, which should rightfully belong to the Maharashtrians.
It was high time that the local government acted firmly. It is a shame that Mr. Thackray has been arrested only, when his antics have come up for sharp scrutiny and censure in the country’s parliament. The law must take its own course is a well worn cliche. Unfortunately Mr. Thackray appeared above the law till now.
How is Mr. Thackray and his thugs any different from the terrorists rounded up by the police for plotting bomb blasts in major cities in the country? Mr. Thackray has unleashed terror on thousands of hapless north Indians who live in Mumbai legitimately and eke out a hard earned living through honest means.
While I can understand people like Mr. Thackray, in their quest for public office and power, playing games with the teeming Indian masses, I really am at a loss to explain as to what kind of people are those, who go about pelting stones, or burning buses on the streets to support Mr. Thackray and his ilk.
As far as my day in Mumbai today,we had to shut down our office by lunch time so that folks in the office can go back home safely. I had to retire to the hotel to twiddle my thumbs and write this angry blog.
Hopefully it will be a new dawn tomorrow.
Pic courtesy rediff.com/PTI