Following the footsteps of Bengaluru, where activists protested against Hindi signages in the metro, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers on Friday protested against a jewellery shop in Dadar and a hotel in Mahim, asking them to remove the signboards in Gujarati.
Hindustan Times reported that one of the owners removed their board, but MNS workers forcibly removed the signboard of the other establishment as it was a sign of belittling the Marathi language.
Reports said that the shop owners had tried to defend themselves, claiming that they had put up the sign boards for their Gujarati clientele. But, adamant MNS workers would not see reason. “They have clients even from South India, so will they install signboards in Kannada and Tamil? This is just an attempt to thrust Gujarati language on us,” MNS leader Santosh Dhuri told HT.
According to police, while the owners of the establishment did not lodge any complaint against the cadres of the Raj Thackeray-led party, seven of them were arrested by police for "illegal gathering" in Mahim.
"In the first case, MNS workers gathered outside P N Gadgil Jewellers in Dadar around 12.30 pm, where the jewellery shop management had put up the signboard in Gujarati," Sunil Deshmukh, Assistant Commissioner of Police said.
MNS workers target shops over Gujarati signboards https://t.co/u8BpRVxsjk— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) July 28, 2017
After Dadar, the MNS workers headed to Mahim junction. There they targeted Hotel Shoba over the same thing, Deshmukh added. "There, they requested the hotel owner to remove the Gujarati signboard. The hotel manager then asked his staff to take the board down," he said.
There were no complaints against MNS workers from the owners of these establishments. However, as they breached the orders issued by Mumbai Police Commissioner, which prohibited gathering without permission, offences were registered against them and action has been taken.
"Two separate offences of illegal gathering under Section 135 of Maharashtra Police Act have been lodged against the MNS workers at Dadar and Mahim police stations accordingly," the officer said.
Earlier, Thackeray has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that the latter aims to move all major businesses from Maharashtra to Gujarat.
MNS had started a campaign in 2008 to ensure that all signboards in Mumbai are in Marathi. However, the campaign was cut short after Bombay High Court's intervention.
(With inputs from PTI)