With the MNS chief daring the government to arrest him or his party’s protest against the toll collection regime, police send notice to workers to forestall unseemly acts
With MNS chief Raj Thackeray exhorting people to defy toll collection and his cry for a statewide stir on Wednesday, the Mumbai police is anticipating trouble.
Sunday’s MNS rally in Pune, where Raj Thackeray announced the rasta roko agitation
And to deter party workers from indulging in acts of crime or disrupting order, the police are sending out notices to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers under Section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, which allows police to take action to prevent cognisable offences. Thackeray will also get the notice.
“We have sent notices under CrPC 149 and may detain a few party workers who have a criminal record under 151 of CrPC. The party president will also get a notice under 149. The Shivaji Park police are working on it,” said a police officer, adding, “We are working to ensure a peaceful rasta rako.”
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up at Mantralaya and protection to state cabinet ministers has been tightened, following Thackeray’s statement on Sunday at a rally in Pune that he would target them. The police notice states that Thackeray had, on January 26, urged his supporters at a rally in Navi Mumbai to face up to toll booth employees if they ask for toll.
Following his incendiary speech, party workers vandalised a number of toll plazas in the state. Then, on Sunday, the MNS chief announced at a rally in Pune that the party would hold a statewide rasto roko agitation on Wednesday.
The law enforcers fear that, given the recent acts of aggression at toll plazas, the MNS protest tomorrow may create a law and order situation. And in case things take an unwarranted turn, the party workers involved will be held accountable, as the notice states.
The Mumbai police, which is headless following the resignation of its commissioner, Satypal Singh, is working under Hemant Nagrale, joint commissioner of police (Administration), who has additional charge as top cop till the state government appoints Singh’s successor. Leaves of all policemen may be cancelled tomorrow.
Police may play Marathi manoos card
A police officer revealed that to ensure things remains cool and under control, Marathi officers may be asked to take charge of the situation. “Senior police officers are finalising a strategy to deal with the situation on Wednesday,” he said. “Last year, when Raj Thackeray and his supporters took to the streets after the August 11 riot at Azad Maidan, the then commissioner Arup Patnaik had taken help of Marathi senior officers to calm down the agitated workers. This year, we might work on the same strategy,” said a police officer.