Raj Thackeray granted bail

Hours after being arrested, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has been granted bail on a surety of Rs 15,000 on Wednesday.

He was arrested from his central Mumbai residence and was taken in a police van to Vikhroli court in suburban Mumbai, where he was produced.

A case against him had been registered in Vikhroli police station after he made inflammatory remarks against North Indians that led to incidents of violence.

Following Thackeray's arrest, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said, ''Police have taken the correct step by arresting Raj Thackeray.''

Adding to Deshmukh's statement, Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil said Raj Thackeray's arrest was an implication that Maharashtra government would not let anyone take law into his own hands.

Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi was also arrested from his residence in South Mumbai on charges of inciting violence and promoting enmity between groups. But an hour later he was granted bail.

Azmi was produced before Mumbai's Bhoiwada Court and was released on bail against a surety of Rs 10,000.

Security has been beefed up around the Vikhroli court. Raj Thackeray's lawyers had asked for an appointment to argue for bail.

Eight MNS workers have also been arrested in Vikhroli. Earlier in the day, MNS State Secretary Vasant Geete was also taken into custody in Nagpur.

Meanwhile, police made around 1800 preventive detentions in various parts of the state to prevent any untoward incident in the aftermath of the arrests of Thackeray and Azmi, Director General of police PS Pasricha said. (With PTI inputs)

Country's interest first for us: Bal Thackeray

Maharashtra has always put the country's interests first and abided by the Rashtra dharma (national ethos), Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said, in an apparent indication that he is not pleased with his nephew Raj Thackeray's campaign against North Indian migrants.

''Shivaji Maharaj took help of Pathans who belonged to other religion and other country in his fight against Mughal invaders,'' he said in an editorial published today in Sena mouthpiece Saamana.

''We also want to carry out the same work. Those who will come with us are our friends, our brethren. We will not think about their caste, region and religion,'' the Sena chief said.

In a veiled attack on Raj, who left the Sena in 2005, he said, ''When Shivaji Maharaj unfurled the saffron flag in Maharashtra, those who stabbed him in the back were his blood relations...his own Marathas.''

''When we proclaim the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj, it is not only to announce caste inheritance,'' the 82-year-old Sena patriarch noted.

For the last 40 years, the Shiv Sena has imbibed Hindutva, he said, adding ''now, the Hindu religion is facing invasion after invasion. At this time, reply will have to be given to this Islamic aggression through Hindutva,'' he said.

Raj launched his own outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in 2006 following differences with his cousin Uddhav, the Sena Executive President.

Raj Thackeray, Abu Azmi arrested

MUMBAI: As per TV reports, Mumbai Police have arrested MNS chief Raj Thackeray and SP leader Abu Azmi on charges of promoting enmity between groups.

Thackeray, who was arrested from his central Mumbai residence, was taken in a police van to Vikhroli court in the suburbs.
Commenting on the arrest of the MNS chief, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil said that Raj Thackeray's arrest shows that government will not let anyone take law into his own hands.

According to a Mumbai police official, the law and order situation is under control in the city.

It is not clear whether Raj Thackeray has applied for bail.

Thackeray and SP leader Abu Asim Azmi were booked under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153 A (promoting enmity between groups on the basis of place of birth, residence, etc) and 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration).

The case against Raj was registered at Vikhroli police station and against Azmi at Shivaji Park police station.

A day after an FIR was lodged against MNS chief Raj Thackeray, arson spread to Pune, Nashik and Marathwada region with angry MNS mobs attacking buses and public property in several places.

More than 400 MNS workers were rounded up in Mumbai and Aurangabad triggering panic forcing the Centre to rush paramilitary forces to Maharashtra to prevent the situation getting uglier.

On Tuesday, in Pune and Pimpri Chinwad, MNS workers went on a rampage following reports of the possible arrest of Raj, during which windows and windscreens of 11 buses were smashed.

Shops along Nashik Road were closed down following the incident. Incidents of stone-pelting on state-run buses were reported from Nashik Road, Ambad, Ravivar Peth and Gangapur areas. Bus services were severely curtailed and diverted via Nipani.

In Amrawati, rumours of Raj's arrest led to MNS workers blocked roads and pelted stones at buses damaging several vehicles in the process. Preventive arrests were made here as well.