The MNS’ Sangli district chief Tanaji Swant, who was at the forefront of the attack, alleged that jobs rightfully belonging to local Maharashtrians were being taken over by ‘outsiders’.
The MNS defended their actions by claiming that Sangli and the adjoining areas of Miraj and Kupwad had witnessed a surge in crime, which was allegedly the handiwork of ‘outsiders’.
The Kupwad MIDC has a large presence of migrant workers, estimated at more than 20,000. The MNS have been agitating for preference of local youths
A video of the assault shows scenes of political hooliganism, as a number of MNS activists gleefully assault, abuse and chase off migrant workers and non-Maharashtrians who had come to shop for groceries at the Kupwad market.
The Sangli police have arrested three MNS activists in connection with the assault, while lodging a complaint under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The party, which advocates jobs for ‘sons of soil’, created ripples on the political scene with its violent attacks on north Indian migrant workers in 2008, namely by beating up candidates from North India appearing for the all-India Railway Recruitment Board entrance exam for the Western region in Mumbai.
Despite getting some mileage in the 2009 Assembly election and a few civic bodies like Nashik and Pune therafter, Raj Thackeray’s party has virtually imploded since the 2014 Assembly election, with a number of its top leaders switching sides.