MNS anti-toll agitation: Raj Thackeray released after being detained
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief, who was detained at RCF police station for two hours, has been released. Thackeray told the media that he will meet CM Prithviraj Chavan tomorrow to discuss the issue on toll collection.
After walking out of the RCF Police Station, Raj told the media that he got a call from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who agreed to meet the MNS chief tomorrow to discuss on the toll abolition issue. He said that the protest has been called off for today but the agitation will continue. Thackeray also requested his party workers to maintian peace.
Mumbai Police detain MNS chief Raj Thackeray
Earlier in the day, MNS chief Raj Thackeray was detained near Chembur, while he was on his way to Vashi toll plaza for 'rasta roko' agitation to protest against toll collection in the state.
Raj Thackeray arrived at RCF police station at around 11 am in his own vehicle. His wife arrived at the station a few minutes later.
Crowd gather near RCF Police station where MNS chief Raj Thackeray was detained. Pic: Anuradha Varanasi
The cops had a hard time controlling the huge crowd that gathered outside the police station to get a better look at Raj Thackeray as he stepped out of his car.
In an official statement, senior PI Dilip Shivram Yadav said, the MNS chief has been detained and not arrested in the police station till further notice.
Cops barricade Shivaji Park lane
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena party workers, media crew, print photographer and also morning walker gathered outside Raj Thackeray's residence at Shivaji Park in Dadar on Wednesday morning to catch the action.
Police barricaded the lane where Raj Thackeray lives and stopped media about 100 metre away from his residence. About 500 police and 2 company of SRPF platoon were deployed as over one thousand MNS active workers, including corporators, shakha adhyaksh, and local leader gathered near Raj’s residence. Deputy commissioner of Police Dhananjay Kulkarni was also present at Shivaji Park.
MNS workers parked two water tankers on Tilak Bridge to disrupt vehicular traffic. Mumbai traffic cops reached the spot and removed the tankers to clear the traffic
Heavy police deployment at Chembur where MNS chief Raj Thackeray was detained
Heavy police bandobast at Vashi
300 MNS women party workers from Sewri who had come to Vashi toll naka were detained and made to sit inside NMMT buses parked near the toll plaza.
The supporters however were not dithered by the police action and said they won’t mind being captive till their chief Raj Thackeray was released.
The heavy police bandobast ensured that traffic remained unaffected within the satellite city.
Nearly 500 policemen were deployed between Vashi Naka to Vashi creek. As a precautionary measure over 200 MNS workers were detained in Navi mumbai since last night.
Vashi toll naka. Pic: Richa Pinto
NMMT cancelled its 30 air-conditioned buses today, non ac bus services did not get affected.
Meanwhile, there were reports of shops being shut in Thane and Chembur after the news of detention of Raj Thackeray spread.
MNS workers detained at Dahisar
Thousands of MNS workers were on roads for rasta roko agitation since Wednesday morning. The Mumbai police arrested over hundred MNS workers, including MLA Pravin Darekar and his other workers, who had come to Dahisar toll naka to protest against toll collection.
MNS workers disrupt traffic at Dahisar
MNS workers blocked roads and stopped some vehicles in parts of Dahisar. Mahendra Sharma,, a bus driver who was stopped by few workers near Gokul Anand hotel in Dahisar said, "MNS worker beat me for not stopping the vehicle. They also removed air from the tyre of the bus, took the ignition key and threw it away.”
Pravin patil, additional CP, said, "No major damage has been reported as of now but the MNS party workers are stopping vehicles and misbehaving with the people"
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan indicated that action against MNS will be taken as per law.
Discarding police notices and warnings, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) launched its state-wide road blocks here since Wednesday morning to protest toll collection in the state, officials said.
MNS activists, including representatives of its women's wings, stormed roads and highways on the outskirts of Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Raigad, Nashik and other areas, attempting to halt the morning peak hour traffic.
Though there are no reports of any violence or damage to public property, some people burnt vehicle tyres in an effort to stop traffic near Pune and Nashik.
In some places, vehicle tyres were deflated to stop vehicular movement, leading to traffic snarls.
Police, accompanied by Rapid Action Force, were out in large numbers, stopping, catching and detaining hundreds of MNS activists.
However, school vehicles and college students were not prevented by the activists and allowed to proceed to their institutions as usual, as also ambulances and other essential services.
The agitation continued even as Mumbai police served notices on nearly 400 MNS office-bearers and activists Wednesday, asking them to exercise restraint.
"We have received the notice asking us to refrain from any activity that could result in law and order problems. We keep getting such notices everytime we launch any agitation program," said a MNS spokesperson.
Preparing for a defiant MNS, the police and the government machinery was geared up to handle the road blocks with security personnel deployed at sensitive locations, major roads, highways, junctions and entry-exit points to cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Aurangabad, Nagpur and others.
Security has also been beefed up at the 145 toll collection booths across the state.
In the past few weeks, activists purportedly of the MNS vandalized several toll booths in places like Kolhapur, Thane, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Pune.
The latest round of anti-toll agitation started Jan 26 at a Navi Mumbai rally when Raj Thackeray urged people not to pay toll and last Sunday he announced the state-wide road blockade programme in Pune.
The MNS has made it clear that all toll collections should be stopped for projects where the costs have been recovered and even in others, the rates should be rationalized.
A grim Home Minister R.R. Patil warned Tuesday the government would not hesitate to arrest Thackeray to prevent any law and order issues.