MiD DAY spoke to Inspector General (Law and Order) Deven Bharti, who oversaw the security arrangements for the MNS rasta roko agitation; he said police managed to maintain peace in the state
The Maharashtra Police managed to downsize the MNS protest and limited it to only two stone pelting incidents, one in Aurangabad and one in Pune.
Workers deflated tyres and broke window panes of trucks and other heavy vehicles on the highway near Vikhroli. Pic/Sameer Markande
The credit goes to senior police officers of the state, who planned the strategy well by sending notices under Section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), warning MNS officer bearers that if they, along with party workers in their area, indulged in illegal activities, they could be arrested.
Inspector General Deven Bharti
It was a tense situation for the state as well as Mumbai police. How did you plan out the bandobast? Were any new strategies adopted this time?
Deven Bharti (DB): We had sent notices under Section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to MNS leaders a day in advance. Also, MNS workers were detained at the respective police stations across Maharashtra. We had a clear strategy: once you see the workers, do not let them go. Most of the MNS activists had left their residences; we ensured that the team was sent back to their homes the next morning and those workers were picked up.
How many MNS workers were detained across the state?
We detained around 12,000 MNS workers throughout the state. Some were booked under CrPc cases, while others were booked under IPC sections for creating nuisance at tollbooths and other areas.
What was the total strength of the police force deployed? Was any extra protection given, especially to the tollbooths that were more vulnerable to the MNS attack?
The state had already deployed 1.8 lakh of its staff in Maharashtra. Apart from this 25 State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and 4 Rapid Action Force (RAF) battalions were also deployed across the state, each with 100-120 men. There was heavy bandobast at the tollbooths.
Had Maharashtra Police identified the sensitive areas where MNS workers were more active? Did you provide security accordingly?
We identified areas like highways, certain tollbooths and city points that were located close to the districts where MNS holds more strength. All such highways, toll booths and city points, where MNS men could indulge in rasta roko, were given extra security cover of the SRPF and RAF officials.
In all, how many incidents of MNS attacks took place?
Only two major incidents in the state have been recorded one in Aurangabad and one in Pune city involving stone pelting.