The Mumbai Police is a strange force. In the past three decades, the Mumbai Police transformed into one of the most professional and competent forces in the country, and the series of encounters as well as the end of organised crime enhanced the image of the Mumbai Police. Today, however, it has become a puppet in the hands of the Thackerays and their political partners. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have become masters of the Mumbai Police, which is why it is going around slapping sedition charges on everyone that is anti-Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra.
The most recent victim of Mumbai Police’s high-handedness is independent MP Navneet Rana and her husband, Ravi Rana. What is the Navneet Rana’s fault, or supposed crime? That she called upon people to gather outside Uddhav Thackeray’s house and recite Hanuman Chalisa. This infuriated the Shiv Sena so much, that it went ahead and got sedition charges slapped against the Ranas.
Mumbai Police Accused of Caste-based Discrimination
Just when we thought Mumbai Police could not fall any lower, Navneet Rana has accused it of indulging in casteist behaviour. In her letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Rana said, “I made repeated demands for drinking water throughout the night. However, no drinking water was provided. To my shock and disbelief, the police staff present told me that I belong to Schedule Caste and hence they will not give me water in the same glass.”
Navneet Rana also alleged, “Further, when I wanted to use the bathroom at night, police staff paid no heed to my demands. I was again abused in the most filthy language… I was told that we don’t let people from neechijaat (Scheduled Castes) use our bathrooms.”
Navneet Rana and her husband have been charged by Mumbai Police under IPC Sections 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race etc), 124A (sedition) and 353 for alleged assault of a public servant to prevent him/her from doing official duty.
Read more: The timing of Uddhav govt’s witch hunt against Arnab Goswami reeks of an sinister scheme
The Curious Case of Mumbai Police and Sedition
Mumbai Police, at the behest of the MVA government, does not experience the slightest remorse before slapping sedition charges on the faces of Shiv Sena and NCP’s detractors. The MVA government is institutionalising the criminalisation of free speech in Maharashtra, and the police is plying the role of a foot solider when it comes to the implementation of such fascistic orders.
For example, Kangana Ranaut was charged with sedition as well. Back then, Mumbai Police charged the actor and her sister for allegedly promoting enmity between communities through their remarks. The Bandra Police had booked them under Indian Penal Code’s (IPC’s) sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race), 295-A (deliberate acts hurting religious sentiments) and 124-A (sedition) and 34 (common intention).
Essentially, Mumbai Police has been throwing around sedition charges haphazardly against people which the government of Maharashtra does not like. Navneet Rana called for the public to chant Hanuman Chalisa outside the Thackeray residence. Do you think that qualified as ‘sedition’? Next, will Hanuman Chalisa itself be declared ‘seditious’ in Maharashtra?
Who can forget the hounding of Arnab Goswami by Mumbai Police? And then, there was the case of a social media user, Sameet Thakkar being treated like a terrorist by Mumbai Police, as his head was covered with a black cloth and he was dragged around with a rope tied to his hands while being taken to court.
The Central government needs to address the deterioration of fundamental rights in Maharashtra, under the MVA government with all severity. The Centre must step in and make it known to the government of Maharashtra that it slapping around sedition charges against its critics will not be tolerated, and that there will be repercussions for such authoritarianism.