MNS activists on the rampage in Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad

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Mumbai, Feb 12 (UNI) Violence rocked Nashik, Pune and Aurangabad today, a day after an FIR was lodged against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, even as police discounted reports of his imminent arrest, saying investigation into the case of his 'inciting' violence against North Indians was yet to be completed.

Nashik bore the brunt of mob fury as a number of shops belonging to the North Indians were attacked in the city, with Shalimar locality being the worst affected. Ramaging mobs also targetted state and city corporation run buses and private vehicles.

An ice-cream factory was attacked by a mob in Panchvati area and incidents of stone-pelting were reported from various parts of the city, leading to closure of shops and business establishments.

At least 16 people, including two MNS corporators, were arrested in connection with the disturbances.

In Pune, MNS activists pelted stones at Pune Municipal buses, damaging six of them in various parts of the city. The activists also damaged goods of vegetable vendors and shops. They have been damaging public and private property since yesterday in protest against Raj Thackeray being portrayed as 'Hitler' in the latest issue of 'Week' magazine.

In Aurangabad, stone-pelting incidents were reported from several parts of the city. A state transport bus was set afire near Jalna road, while two municipal corporation buses were stoned at Aurangpura area this afternoon. State-run buses were also stoned in Beed, Parbhani and Latur, police said.

In Mumbai, an uneasy calm prevailed with no major incidents of violence reported from the Metropolis. However, shops in Dadar, Chembur and Ghatkopar downed shutters this evening.

Police had registered FIRs against Raj and SP city president Abu Asim Azmi at Vikhroli and Shivaji Park police stations respectively yesterday for making inflammatory speeches after last sunday's SP rally at Shivaji park.

Meanwhile, city police has issued notices to Mr Raj and Azmi, restraining them from holding press conferences or public rallies over the next one week.

Mr Raj, while speaking at the press conference held by him earlier, had maintained that the violence in the metropolis and elsewhere in the state was in retaliation to the foul language used by the North Indians leaders against the Marathi ''manoos (people)''. The police have cordoned-off 100 mt of area around the residences of Raj Thackeray at Dadar and Mr Azmi at Colaba since last evening.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had warned yesterday that stern action would be taken against any wone who violated the law. ''No one is above the law,'' the Chief Minister had said in a statement.


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