Shiv Sena, shutdowns and double standards

November 28, 2012

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Thomson Reuters)

Shutting down cities seems to be the Shiv Sena’s new pastime. A week after forcing a shutdown in Mumbai to mourn the death of its leader Bal Thackeray, the right-wing party set its sights on Palghar, a sleepy town 90 kilometres north of Mumbai that finds itself at the centre of a debate on freedom of speech.

It all started when Shaheen Dhada, 21, updated her Facebook status, complaining about Mumbai’s shutdown following Thackeray’s death on Nov. 17. Dhada and her friend who “liked” the post were arrested and Shiv Sena workers were accused of vandalizing a hospital run by Dhada’s kin.

After media outrage over the arrests, the state government seems to be making amends, suspending two police officers in the case and arresting those responsible for the attack on the hospital.

Now the Shiv Sena has come to the rescue of the policemen, calling for a shutdown in Palghar on Wednesday to protest against their suspension which they say is unfair.

Notices have been put up all over town, asking people to stay put at home, local media reported.

For the Shiv Sena, this is a show of strength and a ploy to gain political mileage. The motive might be local, but the implications are national. A bizarre interpretation of India’s internet laws sent two 21-year-old Facebook friends to prison and raised questions of how serious the government is about allowing the freedom of speech, online or otherwise.

On Wednesday, a Facebook comment by another teenager in Palghar offended Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers who accuse the boy of abusing their leader Raj Thackeray, Bal Thackeray’s estranged nephew. Party workers took the boy to the police station but he hasn’t been charged yet. The police seem to be playing it safe.

Dhada’s Facebook post had only indirectly referred to Bal Thackeray, a man not known to mince his words. The Shiv Sena chief had once called Sharad Pawar, a close friend and now minister of agriculture, a “sack of flour” and was noted for his use of provocative language.

The Shiv Sena doesn’t seem to care about anyone else’s freedom of speech but their own, and their shutting down Palghar for a day shows the double standards of political parties. We, of course, allow this to happen.

4 comments

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Shiv Sena, MNS, Raj Thackeray and all other Thackerays are hypocrites. They are tyrants, and I find it absurd when I see people are afraid of them and acting like slaves in front of them, including Amitabh Bacchan, Lata Mangeshkar.

Posted by srabon | Report as abusive

The indian goverment needs to arrest these Shiv Sena rats
and lock them up, how can they go around closing pharmacies, petrol satations, shops, taxis, rikshaws down
people couldent get to hospitals, get food, milk, medecines, and get home from airports and train stations.
How much damage did they do in mumbai the night the big rat died. How many poor, elderly, babies, might of died that night cause of bal thakaray the rat. Goverment needs to arrest these killers!!!!!

Posted by lifer123 | Report as abusive

Of course, referring to Thackeray and the Shiv sainiks as “rats” is similar to how they encouraged Maharashtrians to think of immigrants from other Indian states.

Shiv Sean is like Taliban of India. They must go or all the foreign investors will go and that will put back 100 years and a very deep recession.

Posted by madman2020 | Report as abusive