Clean Chit to Thackeray, Raj, Rane in Vandalism Cases

Clean Chit to Thackeray, Raj, Rane in Vandalism Cases
The government today told the Bombay High Court that there was no evidence against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, MNS president Raj Thackeray and Congress leader Narayan Rane in four separate incidents of political vandalism last year.

Political workers of Sena, MNS and Congress had allegedly indulged in violence and damaged public and private property in all these incidents.

On the last occasion, the high court had asked if any action had been taken against the top leaders.

In an affidavit filed today, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar has said that "during the investigation of these four cases, it was not revealed that top leaders of the parties instigated their followers or aided and abetted... Since no involvement of top leaders or conspiracy was revealed, no action of arrest or prosecution could be taken."

Former IPS officer Julio Rebeiro had written a letter to the High Court, mentioning these four incidents, and demanding that compensation be recovered from those guilty. The letter was treated as a PIL.

First incident took place last January where Shiv Sena workers, led by MP Sanjay Raut, attacked hotel Inter Continental near Mumbai airport over some labour dispute. In the same month, supporters of Narayan Rane allegedly ransacked the office of daily 'Nava Kal', angered by an editorial critical of him.

In the third incident, on January 28, MNS workers vandalised the office of the registrar of Mumbai University to protest the rumour that Marathi would be made an optional subject for arts stream examination.

Then in February, MNS workers ransacked a beauty parlour in neighbouring Thane, suspecting that it was a prostitution hub.

On the last occasion, court had specifically asked whether action was taken against Bal Thackeray, Raj, and Rane.

But according to Iyengar, none of them was found to be involved, and attacks were carried out by local workers "on their own".

Government pleader Niranjan Pandit told the division bench of Chief Justice Anil Dave and S C Dharmadhikari that charge sheets have been filed in all the cases, and compensation has been recovered in three cases.

The court has now asked the government to submit a proposal for creation of office of "claims commissioner" - as contemplated by the Supreme Court in an earlier case.

The claims commissioner will assess the damage caused to public and private property due to violent political protests, and fix monetary liability of the guilty persons.

The proposal is to be submitted to high court in six weeks.
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