Mumbai: MNS sends letters to Thane shops, asks for signboards with bigger Marathi text

Dec 02, 2017, 11:55 IST | Hemal Ashar

It's retail therapy in Thane but of a different kind. Stores targeted by Raj Thackeray's party say it will be 'MNS style' vs 'our style' now

The MNS is back to its trademark 'do this or else' ways. It has targeted a slew of shops in Thane, warning shopkeepers that the Marathi signs on their store signboards need to be bigger than those of other languages.

A garments storeroom in Thane with the name displayed according to law
A garments storeroom in Thane with the name displayed according to law

The ultimatum
The MNS has sent a letter to a number of stores in the area, stating that they need to respect the lingo of the land they are in, and, giving an ultimatum of 15 days to make the Marathi lettering bigger than signage in any other language. The letter dated November 29, warns shopkeepers not to show "disrespect" to Maharashtra and the language, otherwise they will learn a lesson, "MNS-style."

An electronics store in Thane illustrating how the signboard has names in both languages
An electronics store in Thane illustrating how the signboard has names in both languages

Fight back
Says Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) "it is time to give it back, in our style. Retail outlets need to stop becoming soft targets for this thug-like behaviour. We now have police intervention."

A store in Thane with the name displayed as per law
A store in Thane with the name displayed as per law

Bharat Mota, president Subhash Path Vyapari Welfare Association, an umbrella body of Thane shops said, "A day ago, MNS workers were seen at the Thane station road, Naupada road and Gokhale road. They entered a few stores telling us that the Marathi signage is not big enough. We told them, there is a stay in the High Court on the matter of size of Marathi signage. They refused to listen though and said if signage was not made bigger, we will be taught a lesson – MNS style. It was a direct threat."

Cops stop
The shopkeepers had a meeting yesterday with top cops at the DCP office in Thane. Says Mota, "At least 24 points have been identified in Thane, where we have been promised continual police presence for our protection. The police also have given us numbers to call in case of any eventuality."

Viren though says the FRTWA has written a rebuttal to the MNS letter saying that they have instructed shops across Maharashtra to keep, "the Marathi sign board along with any other language. There is no restriction on size of letters on the board."

Fadnavis alert
A letter by retailers dated November 30, to Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, an excerpt from which reads, "MNS cannot dictate to shops with such threats. Do the needful and take strong action and book the culprit so that law and order is maintained in Maharashtra."

Our style
The Retail Traders Association has sent messages via social media to stores saying that, If any political party including MNS issues any letter or threat, Please take action in 'FRTWA style' a) Register a local police complaint and send a copy to FRTWA b) If MNS or any one takes law in their hands, Dial '100' and call the police.

If MNS tries to threaten any of the shopkeepers, we will tackle them in 'FRTWA style' by taking them to court and get them arrested and ensure that they are taken to task 'lawfully'. FRTWA does not take law in their hands and no shopkeepers should retaliate in 'their style'. We are not like them."

No certificates
Viren says, "We all have a right to live and work and earn in any part of India, We are proud to be 'Maharashtrian'. We do not need any one's certificate or advice in the form of threats."

The 2001 order
The High Court ruling on name boards came in response to Federation of Retail Traders' Welfare Dealers Association challenging rule 20-A of Maharashtra Shops & Establishments Rules, 2000. According to the rule, it is mandatory for name-board of establishments to be in Marathi.

There can be other languages but the lettering in Marathi 'shall not be less bold than any other language'. The HC was of the opinion that the rule violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. There is a stay on the case currently.

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