Nearly one lakh workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) are expected to assemble at Girgaum Chowpatty to start their protest march to Azad Maidan today, in defiance of the Mumbai police’s denial of permission.
Police have only given the party the green signal to assemble at Azad Maidan, but haven’t granted sanction to them to gather at Girgaum Chowpatty. “We have not given any permission for the rally that is supposed to commence at Girgaum Chowpatty and end at Azad Maidan.
Permission has been granted to them only to gather at Azad Maidan,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Rajneesh Seth.
Though officials, on record, have refused to divulge the number of policemen to be deployed today, a source from the police control room informed that more than 15,000 policemen, including SRPF jawans, would take up positions en route. Seth further added, “Keeping in mind the crowds expected, certain traffic regulations have also been enforced.”
“It is expected that MNS party workers and senior leaders from across the state will throng Girgaum Chowpatty at 12 pm. Most of the senior MNS leaders have been sent notices under Section 149 of the IPC against unlawful assembly by the Azad Maidan police to ensure that peace is not disturbed,” said a police officer, on condition of anonymity.
“We even called some senior MNS leaders and enquired about the protest. They informed us that it’s a solidarity protest, and they don’t intend to breach the peace. We also informed them that we will start picking their leaders right away, if there is any disturbance,” said the police officer. The MNS has declared to cops in writing that around one lakh party workers from all over the state are expected to converge for the rally.
Azad Maidan, where the rally is expected to conclude, will be under the watch of Additional Commissioner of Police, South Region, Krushna Prakash, while Girgaum Chowpatty will be monitored by Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police, (EOW) Madhukar Pandey, additional commissioner of police (protection branch), will supervise the entire stretch from Chowpatty to Azad Maidan.
Around 4,500 police constables will be deployed at Azad Maidan, of which 2,000 will be local constables, and two platoons of SRPF will be assigned. Four deputy commissioners of police will be also deployed at the spot.