HC restrains Raj Thackeray from agitating over Marathi signboards

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Mumbai, Aug 28 (UNI) The Bombay High Court today restrained Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and his activists from starting any agitation, protest or provocation over putting up Marathi signboards on the shops snd establishments across the state.

Raj Thackeray had issued a threatening letter to shopowners, asking them to put up Marathi signboards by this evening, failing which his activists would ''teach them a lesson in their own way.'' Following this, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) secretary Viren Shah today filed a petition seeking direction to take action against Raj Thackeray for circulating a threatening letter to the shopkeepers and asked the court to direct the police to take action against the MNS activists.

In response to the petition, the Maharashtra government today assured the High Court that it would take strict action against those MNS activists who would target the shops and establishments over the Marathi signboards issue.

Making a statement before the Division Bench, consisting of Justices J N Patel and K K Tated, Public prosecutor Dheresingh Nalwade said the police have been directed to deal sternly with those indulging in violence.

He also said it was brought to the notice of the court that the respondent, Mr Thackeray, had issued a threatening letter to the petitioner. The state would take serious note of it and initiate an action in this regard.

After hearing both the sides, the court directed the state government to file a detailed affidavit within four weeks' time and also to file an affidavit within two weeks' time over the action the state intends to take against the respondents for the alleged threatening letter.

In response to the court's directive, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ajit Parasnis, who was present in the court, assured it that the state would take an action against the respondent.

Earlier, the court had slammed the state over the deadline issued by Raj Thackeray and asked the government to communicate to the court what steps it had taken to protect the interests of the shopkeepers.

During the hearing, the court was anguished over the state's inaction and asked the government to take preventive steps to protect the interests of the traders and suggested to pay adequate compensation to the victims of the MNS rage.

Yesterday Raj Thackeray had written letters to policemen, asking them to ''think twice'' and listen to their conscience before resorting to lathi-charge against the MNS activists involved in the agitation to enforce the Mumbai civic body's deadline stipulating Marathi signboards on city shops by August 28.

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