Bal Thackeray: The tiger of the jungle raj

Bal Thackeray

The Sena's antipathy was however not only directed against Muslims in Marathwada, the Sena cadre also clashed with Dalits and attacked landless Dalits in Aurangabad district.

The Sena also came out with a controversial order to boycott Sikhs for their support to Khalistan. The boycott was subsequently taken back, but many detractors accused that it was just a pretext by the Sena to extort money from the community.

* 1989: Media becomes target

In March 1989, the party turned against one of its own. Shiv Sena corporator Shridhar Khopkar was stabbed 25 times after he voted against the Sena nominee in the Thane Mayor elections. The Sena which till then had successfully managed to use the media through its mouthpiece Saamna turned against it after being at the receiving end of criticism. The office of Mahanagar, an eveninger, was attacked after a scathing editorial which criticised Thackeray. Sena cadre not only attacked the newspaper office but subsequently also attacked a protest march taken out by journalists.

* 1991: Taking on cricket

The Sena now had taken on the role of the state's unofficial censor, deciding what was permissible and what was not. And one thing it made clear was a no-no was cricket matches with Pakistan. In 1991, Sena cadre led by Shishir Shinde dug up the Wankhede pitch so that the Pakistani team could not play in the city.

* 1993: The Mumbai riots

By this time, the Sena had become a force to reckon with in the state as well as known nationally. In 1993, it gained international notoriety with the communal riots in Mumbai. As hundreds lost their lives, the Sena hierarchy was personally blamed for instigating violence. Thackeray was indicted by the Srikrishna Commission Report for directing violence against Muslims between December 1992 and January 1993.

... contd.

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