Mumbai, Sep 28 (IANS): A major political row was triggered in Mumbai after a Marathi woman alleged that she was stopped from buying an office in a Gujarati-dominated building society in suburban Mulund recently.
As a video of the fracas between the woman and the society members emerged, the Mulund Police have lodged a complaint and are probing the matter.
The video of Wednesday shows the woman, Tripti Devrukhkar, who had gone to examine a premise for an office in the Shiv Sadan building in Mulund in the city's north-eastern suburbs.
In the emotional video clip, the woman is bursting into tears and narrating the experience when some Gujarati members, led by an elderly man of the society, blocked her bid, saying that "Marathis are not allowed in this society, as per rules".
When she demanded to be shown the rules, they refused, snatched her phone while she was recording the fracas and roughed her up, even as two others rushed there to help the elderly man.
"They openly threatened me, dared me to do anything, get anyone but they would not budge… The shocking thing is that not a single Maharashtrian there came to my help," said a shaken Devrukhkar.
Later, as the video of the arguments went viral on the social media, top Maharashtra Opposition leaders attacked the state government and asked "whether action will be taken against the society people" for insulting a Marathi woman in such a manner.
"This is horrible… Such a thing is happening to a Marathi in Mumbai and Maharashtra and nobody speaks up for us… If we can’t take an office here then should we go to Gujarat?" Devrukhkar added in a choked voice.
Late on Wednesday, based on Devrukhkar’s complaint, the Mulund police lodged a complaint against the society members, and the elderly man, identified as Praveen Thakkar and his son Nilesh Thakkar, who were summoned for questioning.
Congress state President Nana Patole, Shiv Sena-UBT leaders Aditya Thackeray, Sushma Andhare, Nationalist Congress Party’s General Secretary Dr. Jitendra Awhad, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande and others reacted strongly over the episode.
Thackeray termed the incident as “irritating” and Andhare questioned whether Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis will do anything in the matter.
"Marathas were caned, even women… Will they take action against this building… Will they send the Police and BMC tomorrow, or will they remain silent not to offend the Delhi leaders and ‘speed up the work on the Bullet Train’ project," said Thackeray Jr. in a sarcastic post.
Dr. Awhad said that in Marwari-Jain-Gujarati societies, Marathis, Dalits, and Muslims are not allowed to buy properties as they are considered "lowly meat-eaters" and the Muslims also because of their religion.
"Everyone in Mumbai knows all this…After this incident, there is a clamour on social media that Gujaratis should be thrown out," he said.
Patole demanded whether there is "no place for Marathis" in Mumbai anymore, and other Congress leaders asked whether the Shinde regime will take action against the society in the matter.
Deshpande said that this incident reflected on the Marathi pride and warned that “the MNS would teach a lesson to such people”.
Incidentally, soon after the incident, Mulund MNS activists had landed at the society premises and compelled the Thakkars to tender an oral apology to Devrukhkar.
The aggrieved woman, meanwhile, vented her ire on all state political parties and even the Marathi community for not bothering to protect the interests of their own ilk in their own state against such attitude.
"From where are they (the Gujaratis) getting so much confidence to indulge in this kind of behaviour… What are the parties and our own Marathis doing, except making lavish decorations during Ganeshotsav and calling themselves soldiers of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj," said Devrukhkar.
Meanwhile, the video and the incident evoked sharp reactions on social media and some even pointed out how several prominent Muslims and celebrities in the past were also subjected to such discriminatory treatment in so-called ‘vegetarian’ societies.