A Commendable job by the police ensured that yesterday’s anti-toll protest called by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) neither created law and order issues, nor inconvenienced the motorists.
A few stray incidents: Though the police managed to keep the protestors under control, a few of the MNS workers vandalised PMPML buses after party chief Raj Thackeray was arrested in Mumbai
A visit to the Urse toll naka on the expressway and Somatne Phata toll naka on the old Mumbai-Pune highway revealed that the agitation had failed to gather steam due to timely police action. Even the protest near Indira College on the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass turned out to be a damp squib.
Toll plaza at Khed-Shivapur wears a deserted look. Pics/ Mohan Patil
Apart from less traffic movement on the expressway, all other routes witnessed regular traffic. The police detained 200 MNS workers from all the above-mentioned spots without disrupting the vehicular movement.
Starting around 9 am yesterday, over 100 MNS workers protested on the bypass highway near Indira College, but the police immediately detained them as a preventive measure. Later, 30 MNS workers from Urse, Paranwadi, Bahur and other villages gathered to protest at the Urse toll naka around 11.30 and did sloganeering for 10 minutes before they too were detained. A similar scene was witnessed at Somatne Phata toll naka on the old Mumbai-Pune highway where 40 MNS workers were taken into police custody in the afternoon.
Preparing for a worse-case scenario, around 100 security personnel, comprising an SRPF strike team, local officials from Talegaon police station and highway police, were on guard. They were equipped with lathis, helmets, gas guns and other necessary gear to control the protestors if they turned violent. In the end, the police didn’t get a chance to use these, as the agitation turned out to be a flop show.
An IRB official, working at the Urse toll naka, said, “We observe serpentine queues of vehicles during morning and evening peak hours daily. But today the number of vehicles using the expressway was less as compared to other working days. There are times when our employees are stressed due to excessive workload, but today everyone seems to be relaxed as there is not much work.”
I frequent the expressway and it takes around four hours form Mumbai to Pune. But today I covered the same distance in just 2.5 hours.
— Arjun Mali, truck driver
When I started from Mumbai, I saw heavy police bandobast at Vashi toll naka. It took 10 minutes to clear the plaza, as the cops were checking each and every vehicle. But after that my journey was smooth and I reached Pune in a couple of hours.
— Prakash Telang, motorist