Mumbai, August 24: Union minister Narayan Rane was arrested on Tuesday over his controversial remarks against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, which triggered a political row and protests.
Rane had said that he would have slapped Thackeray over the latter’s ignorance of the year of India’s independence.
Rane was taken into custody by police in the coastal Ratnagiri district, where he is travelling as part of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra, and taken to the Sangameshwar police station, an official said.
A complaint was lodged by Nashik city Shiv Sena unit chief at the cyber police station there, after which an FIR was registered against Rane under IPC sections 500 (defamation), 505(2) (mischief), 153-B (1)(c) (remarks likely to cause disharmony, or feeling of enmity or hatred or ill-will), a police official said.
There were reports that while the process to arrest him was on, Rane complained of high blood pressure and sugar levels and a doctor was called to examine him.
It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to enquire about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given (him) a tight slap, Rane said in adjoining Raigad district on Monday.
The former chief minister claimed Thackeray forgot the year of independence during his August 15 address to the people of the state. Thackeray had to check the year of independence with his aides midway during the speech that day, Rane said.
Rane defended his remarks against Thackeray, saying he hasn’t committed any crime by making them.
On media reportage of his ‘imminent arrest’ in the case, Rane said – hours before his arrest – that he was not a normal’ man and cautioned the media against such reportage.
I haven’t committed any crime. You should verify and show it on TV or else I will file a case against you (media). Despite not committing any crime, the media is showing speculative news about my ‘imminent’ arrest. Do you think I am a normal (ordinary) man? Rane said.
Rane’s remarks drew sharp reactions from Shiv Sena, whose workers put several posters in Mumbai and other places, calling him a kombdi chor’ (chicken stealer), a reference to the poultry shop he ran in Mumbai’s Chembur area five decades ago, during the initial part of his over four-decade stint with the Bal Thackeray-led party.
Activists of Shiv Sena and its youth wing staged protests in various cities across Maharashtra against Rane.
In Pune’s Deccan Gymkhana area, Sena workers slapped posters of Rane with footwear. Yuva Sena workers staged a demonstration in Hadapsar.
A stone was hurled at a mall located on JM Road in Pune, a police official said.
In Amravati, Sena workers vandalised the BJP office located in the Rajapeth area and also set various posters installed in front of the office on fire in protest against Rane’s remarks.
No BJP office-bearer or party worker was present in the office at the time of the incident.
Sena activists poured petrol, brought by them in bottles, on the posters installed outside the office and set them afire around noon. They also hurled stones at the office.
Heavy police security was deployed outside Rane’s residence in Mumbai in the wake of his remarks against Thackeray, an official said.
BJP workers gathered outside Rane’s residence on Juhu Tara Road in Santacruz (West) in the morning in support of their party leader.
Shiv Sena workers carrying placards and shouting slogans against Rane assembled in the Juhu area.
Police personnel, including women cops, were deployed outside Rane’s residence to prevent any untoward incident, the official said.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil distanced himself from Rane’s remarks. I am not defending Rane’s comments, but I will also not express regret,” Patil said.
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP does not support Rane’s comments, but the “party stands behind him 100 per cent”. (PTI)