It wasn’t just the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray that used the Marathi card yesterday during his protest riot at Girgaum Chowpatty. Understanding the importance of the community card, Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik used the Marathi card to his advantage yesterday by deploying senior police officers belonging to the Marathi ethnicity on the ground to pacify the crowds should things get ugly at the MNS protest rally.
A police official on the condition of anonymity said, “Patnaik delegated most of the responsibilities to senior Marathi officers like Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre-Patil and Joint Commissioner of Police (administration) Hemant Nagrale.” Patil was given the responsibility of ensuring safety at Girgaum Chowpatty whereas Nagrale was given the responsibility of Azad Maidan. “They were given the responsibility because it is easier to control the crowds if you speak the same language. There is more affinity with someone who speaks the same language as you.”
The official added that Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy was also given a crucial responsibility because he has served in Nashik, a bastion of the MNS. Roy knows most of the MNS leaders from Nashik personally.
Joint CP (Administration) Hemant Nagrale, who was responsible for the law and order in Azad Maidan had a team comprising of DCP (Anti Narcotics) Vinayak Deshmukh, DCP (Port Zone) Tanaji Ghadge, followed by other subordinates. The Girgaum Chowpatty area handled by Additional CP (West Region) Vishwas Nangre-Patil had at the helm DCP (Zone II) Nisar Tamboli and other subordinates.
The large number of police authorities also ensured that no violence broke out at Girgaum Chowpatty — the location where both the MNS workers and supporters convened to protest and the Muslims gathered to celebrate Basi Eid. A police official on the condition of anonymity said, “We had barricaded the place and strong bandobast was taken to ensure that the two groups did not come face to face.”
Action against MNS
Senior officials told MiD DAY that they had registered a complaint against MNS leaders under the Bombay Police Act, as the rally had been carried out against all required permissions. Speaking to the media, Patnaik said, “We will take action against the organisers as per the law.”
Sources also added that they were checking Raj Thackeray’s speech to ensure if any inflammable statements were uttered.