Tiger by design and ferocity

Bal Thackeray chose a growling tiger as a mascot for the party he floated on October 31, 1966. Many believe it was apt, going by the violent streak in the Shiv Sena.

The launch itself was marked by clashes. A large number of youths returning from Thackeray's rally announcing the new party, incited by his fiery speech, had targeted South Indians. Their establishments in the Dadar area were attacked and the Dadar railway station vandalised.

The 1960s and '70s saw Sainiks in street battles with members of the Communist Party for supremacy mong mill workers in Parel-Girgaum. In the late '60s, member of the Sena workers' union Bhartiya Kamgar Sena were accused of involvement in the murder of a Larsen & Toubro worker outside Kurla station.

1969: First arrest

The party's first major and organised violent agitation was in 1969, when Thackeray demanded the Centre intervene to solve the border tangle of Belgaum. He threatened to protest against home minister Yashwantrao Chavan and deputy PM Morarji Desai if this was not done. Use of force by police to clear the way for Desai's car angered the Shiv Sainiks, who indulged in large-scale violence.

Thackeray was arrested for the first time in February 1969, under the Preventive Detention Act. This led to large-scale protests: 59 people died; property worth lakhs was destroyed.

The government finally released Thackeray and asked him to request the people to refrain from rioting. The call worked and the wily politician saw how violence could be used to serve the party's goals.

1970: Communal turn

The party, which till then had been espousing the Marathi cause, got involved in communal politics with the Bhiwandi and Jalgaon riots of 1970, when close to 82 people were killed. The Justice D P Madon Commission set up to probe the riots referred to the Sena's efforts to win the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Muncipal Council as one of the reasons for the riots.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.