Mumbai, Aug 22: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning, in connection with the IL&FS probe.
He was accompanied by his wife Sharmila, son Amit and daughter Urvashi, along with MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar. The questioning started at around 1130 hrs and is expected to be over by evening and he would be summoned again on Friday, sources said. Two days ago, in a statement, Mr Thackeray had declared that he would honour the summons by the ED, as he had always done in the past.
Earlier, an MNS Spokesperson, party leader Sandeep Deshpande and other activists were detained from Dadar and later whisked off to the nearby Shivaji Park Police Station, to pre-empt any untoward incident.
Strongly protesting his detention, Mr. Deshpande termed it as a "high-handed action" by the police. Other activists protested silently by sporting black tee-shirts with the slogan 'EDiot Hitler' painted on them, as thousands of supporters have come to Mumbai from across the Maharashtra, to express their solidarity with their chief.
Late on Wednesday, the MNS activists were served police notices, warning them against creating any law and order issues, before Mr Thackeray's appearance before the ED. Police have deployed road blocks, barricades, traffic diversions, a large posse of personnel, a dog squad and prohibitory orders in some key pockets, to tackle the situation.
Mr Thackeray has issued at least two direct appeals to all his followers to remain calm, despite any provocation, keep away from the ED office, and desist from any form of agitation or violence. However, his estranged cousin and ruling ally Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday indirectly backed Mr Raj by commenting that nothing would emerge from his interrogation by the ED.
'I don't think there will be any outcome from his (Raj's) investigation by the ED tomorrow,' Mr Uddhav said. Mr Thackeray's former business partners Unmesh Joshi - son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi - and Rajan Shirodkar, have already been grilled by the ED, in a case pertaining to the IL&FS imbroglio.
On Wednesday, agitated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons to the MNS chief, a young party activist committed suicide, by setting himself on fire. (UNI)