Satara, Maharashtra: Raj Thackeray's politics of hate were applied to young children today.
At a school in Western Maharashtra, north Indians trying to get their children admitted to a local school were assaulted by Raj Thackeray's party workers.
Members of Mr Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) singled out parents from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and alleged that they were forging documents to help their children qualify for the school.
The attack took place this morning outside a hospital in Satara, about 250 kilometres from the state capital of Mumbai.
Students as young as 12 were getting medical check-ups, required by the school.
A group of about 20 MNS men said the parents they targeted had lied about their children's age on certificates. One parent was slapped. Other parents were also manhandled.
Mr Thackeray's men justified their action with the bizarre forecast that when "outsiders' children" grow up, they will snatch valuable jobs at the expense of Maharashtrians. "Children from the age group of 11 years from Maharashtra are small-built, and the ones from UP and Bihar are so big... the big children are going to compete with the smaller ones in sports. They will surely win and come first in exams as well. Maharashtrian children will have problems in joining the police service later. We have asked them to leave and the children of Maharashtra should get admission here," said Ranjeet Bhosale, president, Satara unit of MNS.
The worried parents disappeared.
Mr Thackeray's anti-migrant agenda has served him well in the past, helping his party, founded six years ago, to grab attention and votes. With the state scheduled to vote for its new government next year, his workers are expected to flaunt their Maharashtrians-only agenda more and more aggressively.