The Maharashtra government takes the advise of the MNS
The Maharashtra state government has remained true to the form it showed in the earlier anti-Bihari violence by the MNS; it has taken part of the advise given to it by the MNS in its rally at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai. IE reports in a triumph of haste over grammar:
Just 48 hours after MNS leader Raj Thackeray held a huge rally, tagged as a ‘Hindutva’ morcha, where he demanded action against Home Minister R R Patil and Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik for not taking action against violence at Azad Maidan, orders have been issued for the transfer of the top cop – effectively turning him into a sacrificial goat.
Satyapal Singh new police commissioner of Mumbai.
A rally at Azad Maidan on August 11 called by Raza Academy to protest against the violence in Assam directed against Muslims there turned violent when certain elements attacked policemen, molested women constables and destroyed property.
Raza Academy had apologised for the violence and said that the attackers were not their members. Academy had appreciated Arup Patnaik and his force’s ‘sensitive’ handling of the situation.
Police Commissioner brought the situation under control within 30 minutes without resorting to firing guns into the public.
The haste may not have been needed, since TOI had reported a day earlier:
[R. R, Patil] had on August 16 submitted a comprehensive proposal to transfer Patnaik. “The proposal is on Chavan’s table, but he may not agree to it immediately, since that would make it look like a big victory for MNS leader Raj Thackeray, who has been demanding Patnaik’s suspension,” [a high ranking] official said.
On Patil’s proposal, the official said, prima facie the home department had concluded that Patnaik had failed to deal with the situation. “Our information is that there were specific inputs from intelligence agencies on large-scale violence, but we did not act. As a result, the government had to face an embarrassing situation,” he said.
Patnaik denied the charge of inept handling of the situation. “We dealt with it professionally, therefore it did not spread to other parts of the metropolis,” he said.
It is true that the violence did not spread, but the allegation that the city police neglected intelligence was made right on August 11. Nevertheless, the suspicion that the MNS demand had something to do with the removal of Patnaik from his post will not go away. NDTV adds:
Today, [Raj Thackeray] said that while he does not support Mr Patnaik’s promotion, he is glad about the police officer’s transfer.
Mr Patnaik told NDTV earlier this week that though he has been accused of not acting strongly too curb the riot, he is convinced that he did the right thing, and that he accepts that the buck stops with him. He said that if he had not asked the police to show restraint and had they opened fire, 200-300 people could have been killed. The idea, he said, was to prevent the situation from worsening. From the stage, he ordered that any of the protestors at the rally who dispersed peacefully, would not be arrested.
This cannot have good long-term consequences. About the short term consequences, much will depend on Mr. Satyapal Singh, a former Police Commissioner of Pune. He is left in an unenviable position.