Updated: August 25, 2021 8:00:48 am
In a dramatic sequence of events, Union Minister Narayan Rane was arrested Tuesday after a sessions court in Ratnagiri rejected his transit anticipatory bail application in connection with his ‘slap’ remark against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Rane was arrested at Sangameshwar in Ratnagiri by a Nashik city police team that had left in the morning.
Meanwhile, Rane was granted bail by a magistrate court in Mahad late Tuesday evening.
Video | Narayan Rane being arrested by police in Ratnagiri while he was having lunch pic.twitter.com/CmTZuWjpnf
The development comes after Rane, who was on his Jan Ashirwad Yatra in Raigad, on Monday said, “It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of India’s 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.”
FIRs and protests
At least three FIRs were registered against the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Raigad, Pune, and Nashik districts.
One of the complaints against Rane has been filed by Yuva Sena party leader Siddhesh Patekar in Mahad city, where the speech was made, under sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 159(commit an affray), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), 505 (public mischief) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC. Similar sections have been invoked in FIRs registered with the Nashik city’s cyber police unit and the Pune police.
— Narayan Rane (@MeNarayanRane) August 24, 2021
The speech prompted a backlash from Shiv Sena supporters, thousands of whom reached the Aadish Bungalow in Juhu, the residence of Narayan Rane, to protest. Heavy security had to be deployed by the Santacruz police to prevent any untoward incident.
The Shiv Sena supporters, carrying placards and shouting slogans against Rane, clashed with BJP supporters, leading to stone pelting from both sides. Traffic on Juhu Tara road was halted for nearly an hour during the protests.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Vishwas Nangre Patil stated that police had to resort to lathi charge to disperse both the groups. He added that two policemen were injured in the stone pelting incident.
Police officers run after protesters in a bid to control the situation near MSME ministers Narayan Rane’s house in Mumbai.
— Express Mumbai 😷 (@ie_mumbai) August 24, 2021
The party workers put several posters in Mumbai and other places, calling Rane a ‘kombdi chor’ (chicken thief), a reference to the poultry shop he ran in Chembur five decades ago when he was part of Shiv Sena led by Bal Thackeray.
Protests were also held in several parts of Pune and Nagpur, where Sena supporters destroyed posters of Rane. In Amravati city in east Maharashtra, Sena workers vandalised the BJP office located in the Rajapeth area, PTI reported.
Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding Rane be sacked, stating that it was “beyond his comprehension” what message Rane would give to the society, when he himself was using such language.
Rane defends remark, approaches HC
On Tuesday, the Union Minister defended his remark against Thackeray, stating, “I have not committed any crime. Why should I regret it?” Rane had also warned the media against speculating about his “imminent” arrest. “I urge the media to verify the news on TV or else I will file a case for news based on speculations. Do you think I am a normal (ordinary) person?” he said.
The Rajya Sabha member also approached the Bombay High Court seeking to quash the multiple FIRs registered against him over the controversy. Before a division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice NJ Jamadar, Rane submitted that action on the basis of the FIR was being taken against him in an “’arbitrary” manner, while a formal notice under Section 41A (notice for appearance before police officer) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was not issued against him.
His advocate submitted that the action by Sangameshwar Police, Ratnagiri district is “illegal”. However, the bench stated that the petitioner was required to follow proper “procedure under law” to file to get the matter listed for hearing.
While the matter will be heard in the high court in due course, a sessions court had already rejected Rane’s transit anticipatory bail application Tuesday morning.
‘Against protocol’, says BJP
In the morning, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil questioned how the Maharashtra government could issue an arrest order against a Union Cabinet minister suo motu, stating it was “against protocol”. “If they felt it was serious, they could have expressed their displeasure through an administrative order. But issuing an arrest order will not be legally or constitutionally valid,” he said.
Commenting on the remark made by Rane, Patil said, “In the past, even Uddhav Thackeray, when he was not CM, had called the Prime Minister a chor (thief). It is not a question of justifying Rane’s remark. But then derogatory remarks from ruling coalition parties in the last 15 months have gone unnoticed without inviting any action, which is unfair,” he added.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis, too, asserted that Rane’s remark does not qualify as a cognizable offence under the law.
“We don’t support Rane’s remark against the CM. But let me make it clear that the entire BJP is with Rane. At the most, such an uncharacteristic remark could have been countered by the ruling coalition through statements. Where was the need to lodge FIR and issue arrest order?… Will Maharashtra be governed by law? Is this the Taliban?” he asked.
Following Rane’s arrest, BJP MLC Prasad Lad, who was with the minister at the time of the arrest, said, “We condemn the way in which Maharashtra Police and Ratnagiri SP behaved with him. He was having his food when he has manhandled and arrested…We have not been told under which section he has been arrested. We fear for his life.”
— With ENS, PTI inputs
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