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  • On Sunday I was not too happy. And I'll tell you why.

    On Saturday, a senior politician died in Mumbai. He was 86 years old. He started his career as a cartoonist with the Free Press Journal, in Mumbai. In 1960 he started his own political weekly called 'Marmik.'

    In 1966 he formed the Shiv Sena party, with the symbol of a roaring tiger, to campaign for Maharashtrians and 'sons of the soil.' Initially he disliked the influence that the Gujaratis and Marwaris had in Mumbai (then called Bombay). He was also cheesed off with the South Indians who had white collar jobs. Over the past 40 odd years he had also targeted the north Indians and those from outside Maharashtra.

    He was pro Hindu and anti-Muslim. He said that 'Muslims are spreading like cancer and should be operated on like a cancer.'

    He was an admirer of Hitler and once said that 'what India really needs is a dictator who will rule benevolently but with an iron fist.'

    The deeply communal political party has terrorized the citizens of Mumbai for decades now. Each time they organised a 'bandh' (meaning 'closed' – a form of protest used by political parties) people would be afraid to leave their homes. Shops and offices would close down for fear that they would be ransacked and looted. If the media reported anything that was against the party or the party chief, their offices would be destroyed.

    So you can imagine what happened on Saturday. As soon as news of the death was broadcast, people rushed home, shops closed down.

    The funeral was on Sunday. People all over the city turned into desperate housewives, morose husbands and impatient children because the cable TV channels were cut off the entire day, with only the news channels on. The streets were deserted, except for the lakhs who thronged the cremation site at Shivaji Park. It was only after the funeral rites were finished that the cable TV channels restarted.

    Yesterday everything seemed to be normal but then we heard that a young girl, belonging to the minority community, was arrested for posting a Facebook status that criticized the so-called spontaneous bandh

    I think mourning should be voluntary and not mandatory.
    Where is our freedom of speech? Ours is supposed to be a secular country, for Goodness' sake!

    Photo: taken in Pattaya, Thailand. A real tiger but a subdued one.
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