New Delhi: Asserting that every citizen had the right to work anywhere in the country, the Centre today sought to disapprove the actions of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and asked the state government to take all steps to prevent attacks on North Indians.
Home minister Shivraj Patil told the Lok Sabha that “every citizen of the country has every right to go and work anywhere in the country.... It is not just a Constitutional right, but part of our composite culture as well.”
Patil’s statement came in response to an impromptu discussion in the House a day before, which saw several members demanding action against Thackeray for his controversial statements which provoked violence against North Indians.
Noting that neither the people of Maharashtra, nor the government there had supported the agitation, he said “no one can be stopped or restricted from going to any place for work.”
“Certain statements were made by some people... but these have not been supported by the people of Maharashtra, neither by the state government and nor by the people of the country.”
He said whatever was necessary was being done by the state government. “If they fail to do it, the Centre will tell them to do so.”
Maintaining that MCOCA was in operation in the state, he said the state government has filed more than 300 cases against over 1500 people for “substantive offences”. This was besides preventive action taken against 5,000 people.
Asking members to desist from giving ”high figures” of exodus of non-Maharashtrians from the state, Patil said caution was needed due to the sensitivities involved in the issue and its impact on other states.
In an obvious reference to Thackeray’s statement that his organisation would not allow performing of Chhat Puja in Mumbai, Patil said “no one can stop these celebrations. And action will be taken if anybody tries to do so. All festivals are celebrated by the people across the country and that is the strength of our culture.”