MNS chief Raj ThackerayIANS

The Mumbai Police launched a crackdown on key party members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Thursday to prevent them from creating law and order issues. MNS spokesperson Sandip Deshpande and other members were detained by the police and taken to the Shivaji Park Police Station, reported IANS. Deshpande claimed that the detention was a "high-handed action" by the police.

The crackdown took place hours before party president Raj Thackeray's scheduled appearance before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in connection with an IL&FS probe.

Thackeray's business partners Unmesh Joshi, who is also the son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, and Rajan Shirodkar were previously interrogated by the ED.

On Wednesday, agitated by the ED's summon of the MNS chief, a young party activist committed suicide by setting himself on fire.

Thackeray himself issued direct appeals to his followers and told them to maintain calm against provocation, keep away from the ED office and desist from any form of agitation or violence.

Anticipating public disorder, the Mumbai Police implosed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in areas under Marine Drive, MRA Marg, Dadar, and Azad Maidan police stations.

Tight security measures in the vicinity of the ED Offices in South Mumbai, with a huge force deployed, roadblocks, barricades and restricted entry of people were also reported.

(With agency inputs.)