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Here is an update from Facebook.

Shiv-Sainiks were ransacking a small hotel in Versova and my maid's kid, along with 5 friends, heard about it and went over to the hotel to see what had happened.

By the time they got there, the Shiv-Sainiks were gone and police had arrived. With no-one to catch, the police went after these kids and caught 2 out of 6 of them.

They have been beating those 2 kids for about 2 weeks, demanding to know about 'their leader'. The 2 kids have finally broken and since they have nobody to name, they have named their remaining 4 friends.

As I type this, the 4 kids are scared shitless and hiding from the police while the police has issued arrest warrants and is harassing the families for their whereabouts. They all know that all the kids will be beaten to a pulp if they are taken in.

To me, this looks like the police needing to and blaming innocents for damage caused by the Shiv-Sena, since they obviously can't go after the real culprits.

I need to help these kids. I'm looking for this to get any media attention it can, or any legal advice on the matter, or any intervention by anyone who is in a position to make one.

PLEASE share this and help me help these innocent kids. The families are at the police station NOW - other members of the families are being taken in. there's no saying what methods they will employ to find these kids, only to blame them and punish them for the SHIV-SENA's actions.

Trying to find out details, but this clearly shows how entrenched the thuggery is among both Shiv Sena and the police. Here is an urgent need for the state to claim its streets back.

Update: Mumbai Mirror reports a robbery of a pub in Versova by people "pretending to be Shiv Sena"

The Versova police on Wednesday arrested a man who allegedly led 10 other men and ransacked and looted money from a pub claiming to be Shiv Sena members.

The accused, identified as Sopan Karande, was part of the group that had attacked the staff of a pub named Soda at Versova on November 14. After assaulting the owner and staff, they allegedly fled with cash kept at the cash counter.

On Wednesday evening, a staffer of the pub, Sandeep Patil, 23, saw the accused who was leading the group that evening, sitting in a shoe shop at Seven Bungalows in Andheri, and alerted his employer.

The owner, Vikram Ramakrishnan, 33, reached the spot with a few police officers and identified the accused as one of the group that had ransacked the pub. “On November 14, some men started forcing people to shut their shops and restaurants claiming that Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had died. Everyone shut down their shops, we also did, and a few customers who had ordered food were finishing it, when the group barged inside,” said Vikram in his statement to Versova police.

He added, “The group led by Karande and another person, started abusing everyone and then started assaulting the staff. When I tried to stop them they assaulted me also, and then ransacked the place. We later realized that Rs 20,000 in the cash counter had been stolen.” A case on charges of dacoity and rioting was registered with the Versova police on November 15 against 10 to 15 unidentified persons.

“We have arrested the accused and are questioning him to find out if he belongs to any political party,” said Senior Police Inspector Prakash Borse from the Versova police station.

Vikram had suffered a head injury as the accused hit him with a stone, while five staffers also suffered injuries. “The accused was accompanied by his brother and 10 other people. Two were nabbed but the attacker escaped” said Vikram’s wife Manvi.

Points to note:

  • News story is from the 29th. The story of the police harassing the "kids" seems to be from an hour back (11am ish) today (30th).
  • The description of the timings of the events seems to match in both stories.
  • Is the person harassed the same as the "kid" from the Facebook story?
  • Why, if someone has already been arrested are "kids" being harassed today?
  • Is the person arrested to let of the Shiv Sena guys? Or is the arrested criminal claiming innocence and being targeted to protect the Shiv Sena? Hope our newspapers are able to snoop more on this.
  • For someone to falsely accuse Shiv Sena has gotta be suicidal, particularly considering the form they are in since Bal Thackeray's death. So seems highly unlikely that a random thief would accuse Shiv Sena to save himself. Accusing Bhaiyas getting Sena on their side made more sense in Mumbai. Just saying.

Wonder what's happening here.

6

Bal Thackeray died yesterday, and all hell broke loose among the polarized opinions. Some respected him for what he did. Others saw him as a fascist. There was very little overlap if any. In my eyes, mass leaders like Balasaheb Thackeray cannot be viewed in isolation from the masses. While it is undeniable that the Shiv Sena held and continues to hold the city hostage with brute force, while it cannot be denied that there have been hideous attacks on outsiders and Muslims, the question really becomes one of trying to understand what is really happening here.

When a politician can use a regional identity and build such formidable politics around it that almost no public figure is seen criticizing him in death, the matter isn't one of political disagreement, but a question of what drives a sizable part of the population to ideologies that the rest see as unacceptable. If the country is to be whole, there has to be an attempt to include interests of all.

Bal Thackeray and his divisive politics can be dismissed as beneath our attention. However, isn't this a story that keeps repeating countrywide in various ways across the political spectrum? We see the high success of religious identity politics with parties like the MIM. We see far more xenophobic politics in the name of region among the Kashmiris or Bodos. We see the narrative of the rights of the local people echoed in political orientations as far left as the Maoists.

We could choose to fixate on the unacceptability of a person and refuse legitimacy to views of a significant part of the population, or we could choose to see what it means to India as a whole if such divisive politics consistently finds popular support.

A common factor I find is disenfranchisement. It is less about the desire for superiority and more about the desire for identity to be respected. When we speak of the Marathi Manoos rallying behind Shiv Sena, we could dismiss them as Facists. All of them. And accept that a significant part of the country has interests in bringing fascists to power. Then we fight a perpetual ideological war. Or we could choose to see what the hurt is and see if there are ways it can be fixed to avoid driving people to violent ideologies. This is not about adopting divisive politics, but in identifying the problems being addressed by it to see if more functional solutions that don't divide people are possible that satisfy the needs perceived by the people, or remove the needs in other ways.

A common factor in all these narratives seems to be a state that will not listen leading to people who think they need to take matters in their own hands if their interests are to survive. These are invariably people without a mainstream voice. What is the Kashmiri who keeps saying that India is trying to colonize Kashmir really saying? What is happening to his identity? What does it mean when a Bodo comes to the point of massacring outsiders (Muslims this time)? What does it mean that thousands of people stand accused of sedition for daring to refuse a nuclear plant? What does it mean when a Marathi Manoos speaks of Balasaheb Thackeray saving the "Marathi Asmita" in a time when Marathis were ridiculed as "ghatis"?

The rest are just the frills. It matters little if Balasaheb Thackeray saved the Sikhs or Kashmiri Pandits. Those are being presented as evidence of his being "good", but what really got people rallying behind him? They felt that their identity was being bolstered by powerful stands he made. Today, the Marathi manoos often lives in an overwhelming perception of his culture and identity being marginalized. Particularly those who don't have access to this "modern" India being built around them. Whether factually correct or not, it is experientially true. A person who grew up in the shadow of middle class parents working hard and buying their own home cannot dream of doing the same. This is inflation, but a new class of rich people makes it seem like odds are stacked against him (which they are too). Massive growth in media and muli national industries have resulted in a new class of affluent people who idolize influences that increasingly exclude Maharashtrian ones. It isn't only about missing influences but about them being inferior.

Marathi accents in Hindi or English are perceived as less refined. Marathi heroes are possible only if sanitized to a generic north Indian image. In the city with the most national media being made, the "average" person portrayed is never Marathi unless it is made in the Marathi language. A job as a peon too needs fluency in Hindi and/or English. It is not just a matter of jobs, but one of identity being perceived as declared inferior to that of "outsiders"

We  can debate the "good man, bad man" thing till the end of time, but the bottom line is that the Marathi person sees much needed enforcing of respect for the identity of "real inhabitants" in symbolic things like Marathi signboards or insistence on Marathi films being played in theaters. And it isn't perfect, but it feels good. It feels like their existence is valued. As a Sena supporter said recently on the hype about the Biharis "Here Gujjus are owning Mumbai, driving up prices till Marathis are selling and moving to cheaper places, and we are objecting to people doing labor that helps the city run?" The point is that the Marathi Manoos isn't fooled by the xenophobia. They aren't fooled by the selective standards. But they want whatever affirmation of their identity possible.

The question really becomes one of why this kind of disenfranchisement happens. Why do things reach such a point where a template of "Indian" takes over unique identities and compounds it by calling a generic rootlessness the ideal? Why does this ideal deny any special bonds between people and their homeland? What is achieved by denying these fundamental identities? Why is the "greater good" at the cost of those being harmed by it? Who do we cater to, by upholding the rights of those with resources to pick the best opportunities everywhere to do it regardless of cost to local sentiments?

For that matter, in a country perpetually outraging over sentiments, how is it that the violated sentiments of tribals, Kashmiris, Bodos, Marathis, Kudankulam locals, and such people invaded by the larger good don't find validation? A little contemplation shows that it boils down to power - muscle or money. Have money, reach opportunity. Have muscle, influence opinion. Have money, take over the economic capital of the country.

In my view, the real thought on Balasaheb Thackeray's death does not need to be if he was right or wrong, but what is it that he provided that the supposed rule of law and democracy deprived his supporters of. What is it that we as a country are ignoring? Why are we not able to listen to people?