February 28, 2020
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March Of The Sena

March Of The Sena
IT was Friday night and Hutatma Chowk in town wore a deserted look. Suddenly 200 Shiv Sainiks appeared and began blackening the English signboards of important banking and corporate establishments. They called it a clandestine operation. Mumbaiites were reminded of similar, earlier 'black' weekdays of the pre-alliance-government days.

It took less than an hour to tar Hongkong Bank, uti Bank, New India Cooperative Bank, the plush Bombay Store and the state-run Kashmir Arts Emporium. Security guards stood speechless as the entire stretch from DN Road to the Jehangir Art gallery was taken over by a sweaty, swearing, slightly-drenched and gloomy goon/political brigade.

The Sainiks broke the law in the name of the 1961 Shops and Establishment Act, which makes it mandatory for establishments to have Marathi signboards. It, however, allows the use of other languages. Bal Thackeray's army is now threatening Tata Memorial Hospital for its 'anti-Maratha' discriminatory policy.

Does this denote a resurgent saffron paranoia? That would have been less worrisome if it wasn't part of a curious Mumbai monsoon paranoia. The fallout of RSS' infamous anti-Khan Panchjanya piece on Bollywood has been insidious. Pro-Sangh parivar activists are menacing Pepsi for putting up anti-Hindu, anti-Hrithik Roshan ads. Murky, mid-'90s type rumours, about Dawood's role in the making of the Khans, and, incredibly enough, the rise of soft, politically-correct, romantic subjects in films, are making the rounds. A network of business and politics, which is using the 'Muslim-underworld-connection' card to create its own film industry lobby, is fanning hushed fears and exaggerations allegedly.

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