A day before Raj Thackeray is set to appear before the Enforcement Directorate in Mumbai, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief has issued yet another public statement urging followers to maintain peace and refrain from gathering at the ED office on Thursday.
Thackeray’s public statement was issued Wednesday after an MNS activist, reportedly upset over the ED notice issued to the party chief, immolated himself on Tuesday night.
According to local MNS leaders, party worker Pravin Chowgule was “angry” after the ED notice was issued to Raj Thackeray and reportedly doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire. He succumbed to his injuries later.
While police are investigating the reasons behind the suicide, they said no suicide note was found at the spot.
Claiming that Chowgule was an avid supporter of the party chief, MNS Thane chief Avinash Jadhav said, “…he would be present in all our rallies with the MNS flags painted over his body. Since the ED notice, he had shared several social media posts expressing his anger against what had transpired.”
The public statement issued by Raj Thackeray also stated that Chowgule had immolated himself because of the ED notice served to him. “I am disturbed by the news of the passing away of our colleague Praveen Chowgule. He has taken this extreme step of self-immolation after being disturbed by the news of me having received a notice from the ED,” he said in the statement.
Thackeray also requested his supporters not to take such extreme steps and maintain peace in the state.
“The ED has certain questions to ask which I will answer suitably. I implore you once again to keep peace and ensure that on one shows up at the ED office tomorrow. I have received information that in spite of my call on Tuesday, asking supporters not to assemble at the ED office, some of you were still planning to come there. If you really love me then you will not come there,” Thackeray said.
“I am reiterating… that under no circumstances should the common man suffer and there should be no destruction of public property,” he said.
Soon after Thackeray received the ED notice in connection with a money laundering probe, MNS leaders had called a bandh in Thane district and asked supporters from across the state to converge at the ED office. The party later withdrew the protest.
The state administration, meanwhile, has geared up to handle any crisis situation. The Mumbai police has served notices under CrPC section 149 to MNS leaders and members, asking them to refrain from holding protests and warning them of legal actions if they did not comply.
The MNS chief seems to have found an unexpected support from his estranged cousin and
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who said that he did not believe anything substantial would come out from the ED inquiry.
“I do not expect any solid outcome from the inquiry,” Uddhav told reporters Wednesday.
An ED notice, dated August 16, was issued to Raj Thackeray asking him to present himself before Rana Banerjee, Assistant Director, ED, on August 22.
The ED is presently probing IL&FS group’s loan and equity investment on charges of money laundering. The group had invested Rs 860 crore in Kohinoor CTNL, a company founded by former Maharashtra CM Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh Joshi, which is building a skyscraper in central Mumbai. Raj Thackeray was a part of a consortium with Joshi which had bought the mill. Thackeray had exited the consortium in 2008.