Police allow Raj Thackeray to hold rally

However, the MNS has not been allowed to take out its 5-km long procession from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan Tuesday afternoon, Mumbai Joint Police Commissioner (Law & Order) Rajneesh Sheth said.

Thackeray has declared he would go ahead with the party procession despite the bar.

Hours earlier, Thackeray had rued that barely a day before taking out the MNS procession Tuesday, the party has not been granted official permission for it.

"Now it doesn't matter. Whatever happens, we will take out the procession," Thackeray declared at a media conference Monday evening.

The MNS hopes to attract over one lakh people to the procession, including party activists from all over Maharashtra, Mumbaikars and families of policemen who were injured after a 25,000-strong procession by Muslim organisations turned violent Aug 11.

The procession will condemn the Aug 11 violence and demand resignation of Home Minister R.R. Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik.

Thackeray demanded to know how was the permission granted for the Aug 11 procession by several Muslim organisations to Azad Maidan, which finally erupted in violence and two deaths.

"The authorities had prior information that there could be trouble, but yet they permitted them to take out such a huge procession. In contrast, we will only gather at Girgaum Chowpatty and then take out a peaceful procession to Azad Maidan," Thackeray said.

He was reacting to a police notice served on the party imposing restrictions on holding the rally and warning that the MNS would be held responsible for any untoward incident.

Sheth, however, said that no police notice has been served on the MNS, but the local police may have issued some preventive notification in view of the party's programme Tuesday.

Thackeray said he had already informed his party activists to remain calm and vigilant to ensure that outside elements did not take advantage of the MNS procession.

Meanwhile, wiser after the Aug 11 experience, Mumbai police have made elaborate arrangements to handle the MNS procession.

Over 12,000 policemen, supervised by three additional police commissioners, will fan out on the 5-km long procession route in south Mumbai.

Sheth called upon people not to fall for rumours and promised to come down heavily on rumour-mongers and trouble-makers.

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