Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I may be arrested for this post.

In order to explain that possibly startling statement, let me tell you about a few things first.

There was a man named Bal Thackeray (who for the purpose of this article I will call Ball Quackeray). A former cartoonist and fan of Adolf Hitler, he became the unofficial king of the Indian city of Bombay, which he had renamed Mumbai. He ran an extreme right wing political party-cum-private army called the Shiv Sena (the army of Shivaji, an eighteenth century Marathi king who would have been repulsed by everything Quackeray stood for...and which will be known as Shit Sena here on) with the help of his nephew Raj and son Uddhav, not to speak of a daughter in law whose name I no longer recall and who is the widow of another son who died. He also had a right wing rag called Saamna which expressed nothing but his views.

Nothing official happened in Bombay without the Shit Sena’s – and ultimately Quackeray’s – approval. They have sabotaged cricket matches with Pakistan, and forced their own code on Bollywood, with former liberal and superstar Amitabh Bachchan (“Vomitup Bachpan”) in their pocket, along with many others. They have repeatedly carried out pogroms, not just against Muslims – the usual victims – but against Hindus from outside Maharashtra, the state of which Bombay (like most non-Maharashtrians, I prefer the old name). These victims were overwhelmingly from Bihar in Northern India, Bihar being a state which primarily exports workers to all other states to do the work nobody else wants to do. Biharis in Mumbai are taxi drivers, cobblers, barbers and so on; the economy couldn’t function without them. Quackeray decided they were “stealing jobs” from local Marathis and had them attacked, and even demanded they require a “passport” to visit Bombay,

Not that Quackeray’s dictatorship was anything like as brave as it pretended to be. When a tiny (officially ten-man) squad of Islamic terrorists from Pakistan (the essence of what the Shit Sena claims to hate) launched an amphibious assault on Bombay on 26 Nov 2008, virtually shutting down the city for three days, the Shit Sena was conspicuous by its complete and utter absence. Apart from Vomitup Bachpan (who is not officially a Shittite) announcing to general hilarity that he was sleeping with a revolver under his pillow, the Shit Sena vanished utterly from the scene until the fighting was over.

So, though Quackeray was a far right extremist loonie Nazi lover, he did not even have the courage that individual Nazis had in the face of danger. Basically, he was an ethnic Marathi chauvinist, Hindunazi goon with a private army at his beck and call. But he was so powerful that when a court ordered his arrest, the police visited him at his home (a mansion called Matoshree) and politely invited him to accompany them when he felt like it. But he wasn’t immortal, And when his nephew and son began squabbling over the succession, he chose the dynastic principle and put his son in charge of the party, while the far more able nephew left in a huff and set up his own Marathi chauvinist Hindunazi goon squad. Par for the course.

Ball Quackeray finally shuffled off this mortal coil recently. I say “recently” because though his death was announced on Saturday afternoon (17 November 2012), there were strong and highly credible rumours that he actually died a couple of days before and his death was announced at the weekend in order to minimise disorder.

Why disorder? Because it was expected that his Shit Sena goon squads would vent their rage on shops and businesses owned or operated by Muslims and non-Marathi Hindus, burn buses and the like. In the end, this was averted by a truly enormous security presence – his funeral procession was guarded by fifty thousand police according to the report I read, and I wonder how the Maharashtra government found that many. Did they stop all other policing functions? The city shut down entirely (a virtually unheard of thing for Bombay) and police advised residents to stay indoors.

This general shutdown didn’t go down too well with everyone. Among them was a young woman called Shaheen Dhadha, who wrote a Fakebook post saying what everyone knew – that the shutdown was out of fear and not because people loved Quackeray. A friend of hers, Rainu Shrinivasan, “liked” the post.

What happened next? Apparently, a Shit Sena member from Dhadha’s hometown read the post (do these people have nothing better to do than trawl the net to find things to be offended by?) and complained to the police, following which Dhadha and Shrinivasan were both arrested. So much for freedom of speech. If I were a Maharashtra resident instead of living three thousand kilometres away, I might be arrested too.

Meanwhile, a Shit Sena goon squad went to an orthopaedic hospital run by Dhadha’s uncle and smashed the place up in retaliation. Charming, isn’t it?

At the moment the two young women are out on bail and the police have most reluctantly arrested nine Shittites for smashing up the hospital, But that’s about all that is going to happen. They will be out faster than you can say Ball Quackeray. After all, though normal humans were outraged, the Shit Sena “justified” the police action against the young women.

I’m waiting though for the inevitable power struggle that will eat the Shit Sena up from within now. Quackeray’s son is a nonentity. The daughter in law I mentioned (also rumoured to have been Quackeray’s lover) is another player. Local warlords (the Shit Sena has established offices in many localities) will try and grab as much power for themselves as they can. And Raj Quackeray (the ousted nephew) is certain to try a hostile takeover bid.

For enemies of the Shit Sena, these will be interesting, not to say entertaining, times.

Tales of a Quack.


  1. thanks for the history lesson, I always wondered why Bombay suddenly became Mumbai, in fact it took me a while to figure out they were the same place. I hope some sort of peace and juastice prevails there soon.

  2. Definitely crazier than Canada, but we are starting to close the gap. Just give us time.

  3. this shiv sena is very much similar to the MQM of Karachi,but it is not as violent as MQM.


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