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An acid test for Mumbai's spirit

The Raj Thackeray rally comes at a time when the city — as indeed large parts of the country — is charged with an atmosphere of distrust, despair and disharmony. The MNS chief’s resolve to stage an aggressive demonstration despite restrictions placed by the police is a worrying sign for the government, the working class and the business community in the city. At a time when Mumbaikars are once again trying to pick up the pieces and regain a semblance of normalcy, there’s always a chance that such a protest would add more fuel to the already flickering flames rather than dousing them.

The city police, already burdened with the responsibility of rounding up all the August 11 rioters and maintaining peace in times when mischievous rumours are circulating everywhere, has an added reason to worry. The situation is also a challenge for Congress and NCP. They have not forgotten the 1992-93 riots and blasts, the subsequent polarisation of voters and the rise of Shiv Sena and BJP that culminated into a change of government.

It’s also important for political parties and citizens to bear in mind that the Amar Jawan Jyoti, defaced by miscreants, has now been renovated. More importantly, the memorial salutes the martyrdom of Mangal Gadia and Syed Hussain — a Hindu-Muslim duo — killed during the 1857 struggle for independence.

There is, indeed a need to tell the younger generation about the importance of such sacrifice, when one rises above selfish needs. We need to be more vigilant to thwart designs of people who want to disturb the peace in the name of atrocities against a particular class or community. If we fail now, the dream of making Mumbai a world — class city will remain just that. 

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