Police presence ensures that Congress workers' protest against Gandhis in court isn't a nuisance
Congress workers on Saturday staged a protest at Kherwadi Junction, off Western Express Highway, in an attempt to show solidarity with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had been asked to appear at Delhi's Patiala House Court in the National Herald case. The two were granted bail.
Former CM Narayan Rane and ex-MP Priya Dutt were seen at Saturday’s Kherwadi Junction protest. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The protest did not stall traffic on the busy road for long as the police personnel at the spot outnumbered the protestors. "There were about 1,000 officers to manage the crowd, making it one policeman for one protestor.
This was a relief for motorists who feared a major traffic jam on the highway," said a senior police officer, adding that the police's task was made easy since many workers did not stay till the end of the agitation.
Sitting on dharna on the side of the road, they'd often step on the streets to block the traffic, and shouted anti-BJP slogans, he said. The protest started at 10 am and ended at 2.15 pm. The workers slept and sat on the road before they were taken away by the police.
The bandobast duty officer added that the protest was peaceful and culminated at the BKC Police Station where senior leaders including state Congress president and ex-CM Ashok Chavan, city president Sanjay Nirupam, ex-MP Eknath Gaikwad, MLA Naseem Khan, MLC Bhai Jagtap, ex-MLAs Kripa-shankar Singh and Rajhans Singh and city vice-president Zakir Ahmed courted a symbolic arrest. Ex-CM Narayan Rane and ex-MP Priya Dutt too participated in the protest, but left soon because of the day's engagements.
The leaders and workers, who were taken to the police station, were released without any charges being pressed against them as there had been no violence or damage to people or public property. The venue of protest assumed significance because of its proximity to a piece of land where a controversial building named Congress Bhavan is being constructed.
The Maharashtra government had allotted the plot to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) in 1983 for building a Nehru memorial library and research centre. The BJP-ruled state government has now ordered a probe to verify charges that the use of the land had been changed in violation of rules, in order to construct a 11-storey building at the Bandra East plot.
City Congress vice-president Zakir Ahmed told sunday mid-day that the party would continue its mass tirade against the BJP and PM Narendra Modi. “Modi must understand that he cannot run janatantra (democracy) as per his manatantra (whims and fancy). The Congress has a collective strength and willpower to defeat Modi’s ill designs,” he said.