ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Story of Murder and Mayhem in Maharashtra

Vigilantism has deep roots in the state’s political culture, going back a long way.

Right-thinking people in this country are naturally horrified by the atrocities that gau rakshaks are perpetrating in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and elsewhere. But if they are to challenge this vigilantism they must first understand that such state-supported violence has a long history in this country. A potent example comes from Maharashtra. While the vigilantism in North India is driven by crude fanaticism, in Maharashtra it has been more subtle, involving the support of big business and anti-communist political parties, led by the Congress.

In Maharashtra, vigilantism reared its vicious head with the birth of the Shiv Sena in 1966. Within a couple of years of coming into being, the Sena began unleashing terror against communists in Mumbai, which many of the city’s capitalists tacitly supported while the Congress and other political parties looked the other way. The most blatant example of this occurred on 5 June 1970, when Shiv Sainiks stabbed Krishna Desai, a state legislator from the Communist Party of India (CPI), to death. Desai led such a frugal life that he did not own even a transistor set. After Desai was murdered and his assembly seat became vacant, the Sena’s Wamanrao Mahadik won the subsequent by-election, becoming the party’s first member elected to the assembly. Thus, the Sena’s entry into democratic politics was paved with murder and vigilantism.

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Updated On : 2nd Jun, 2017

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