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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Authorities firm on arrest threat
Shiv Sena men with a poster of Bal Thackeray
Thackeray supporters are threatening violence if he is arrested
The government of India's western state of Maharashtra has reiterated its intent to take legal action against militant Hindu leader Bal Thackeray, even as his supporters threatened violent protests.

Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told the French news agency AFP that there was no question of backing down and that his government will "see the case to its logical end".

Let them go on threatening - we are only going by the law

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh
Last Saturday, the Maharashtra government announced that Mr Thackeray would be prosecuted for his alleged role in inciting the anti-Muslim riots in Bombay in 1992.

Mr Thackeray's Shiv Sena party has warned that any attempt to arrest him would challenged on the streets of Bombay.

"Let them go on threatening," Mr Deskmukh said. "We are only going by the law. We believe that everybody is equal before the law."

Police decision

Mr Deshmukh said the sanction for the Shiv Sena leader's arrest had been given and now the police had to decide on how to go about it.

Old man with Bal Thackeray's poster
Maharastra chief minister says police will decide on the arrest
The BBC's Bombay correspondent Sanjeev Srivastava says the arrest is unlikely this week.

India's Supreme Court will begin hearing a civil action against Mr Thackeray on Friday in New Delhi relating to the same events.

The state's Congress-led government wants the civil action at the Supreme Court to lead the way so that it is not accused of conducting a political vendetta against Mr Thackeray.

Meanwhile, the situation in Bombay continues to be tense.

Private television channels say that some city residents are stockpiling food in case of violence.

Authorities have provided heavy security cover, including a 2000-strong contingent of paramilitary forces on standby at a cricket stadium.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | South Asia
Police deny Shiv Sena arrest rumours
15 Jul 00 | South Asia
Hindu militant faces court
28 Jul 99 | South Asia
Poll ban for Hindu leader
06 Dec 99 | South Asia
Protest over Ayodhya anniversary
19 Jul 00 | South Asia
Profile: The 'tiger' of Bombay
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