The seething animosity between the rival Shiv Sena factions led by Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde spilled over on to the streets of Mumbai, following a clash between the two camps in Mumbai’s Dadar area.
The ruckus, which took place on Saturday night near the New Prabhadevi in Dadar, reportedly had its cause in a controversial social media post on the day of the Ganesha visarjan on Friday.
According to sources, on Saturday midnight, after the visarjan, a Sena functionary from the Shinde camp named Santosh Talavane was allegedly attacked by a member of the Thackeray camp, Mahesh Sawant, and several others.
A video clip of the violent scuffle also showed that Shinde group MLA Sada Sarvankar was present during the melee and trying to defend Talavane.
After complaints and counter-complaints lodged by functionaries of both Sena factions, the Dadar police arrested five members of the Thackeray camp, while lodging first information reports (FIRs) against more than 25 members of both sides, including Mr. Sarvankar.
The Thackeray faction later alleged that Mr. Sarvankar, who was reportedly present during the melee, had fired in the air.
Cases were registered under various Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections — 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation). Another FIR under various sections, including provisions the Arms Act, was registered against Mr. Sarvankar, the MLA from Mahim.
The five Thackeray faction functionaries were later released on bail.
Irate Thackeray camp activists also pelted Mr. Sarvankar’s office with stones while, Uddhav camp loyalist MP Arvind Sawant demanded CM Shinde’s resignation.
“After the Ganesh immersion, there was a heated argument between the workers of the two factions. MLA Sada Sarvankar verbally abused our group and fired twice in full public view. When our workers went to Dadar police station to lodge a complaint, it was not initially accepted. Does it mean that the police are under pressure by the new government?” Mr. Sawant questioned.
However, Mr. Sarvankar categorically refuted the Thackeray camp’s allegations against him, insisting that he did not fire in the air and that this was “a ploy to defame” him as he had joined the rebel Shinde faction.
“I got a call on Saturday midnight that a functionary of mine, Santosh Talavane, was being attacked by 30-40 members [of the Thackeray camp]…I intervened and tried to control the mob,” he said, denying that he had used any firearm during the incident.
Kiran Pawaskar, spokesman of the Shinde group, rejected the allegations against Mr. Sarvankar firing in the air as “ludicrous”.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the coalition ally of the Shinde faction, jumped into the fray by backing Mr. Sarvankar.
Senior BJP leader Pravin Darekar said that the action by the Uddhav camp reflected the “sense of widespread despair” among its cadre after Mr. Thackeray’s ouster from power.
“In desperation, functionaries of the Uddhav camp are resorting to such strong-arm tactics. This was evident even during Aaditya Thackeray’s rallies in Maharashtra,” Mr. Darekar said.