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Shivaji Park becomes Wi-Fi war zone for Shiv Sena and MNS

Aaditya Thackeray’s Yuva Sena steals his uncle’s thunder by launching free Wi-Fi services at Shivaji Park an hour before Raj Thackeray was supposed to launch it yesterday

Shivaji Park witnessed a technology war yesterday, when fierce rivals Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena came head to head over who would claim the glory of being the first to provide free Wi-Fi services in the area.

Each of the Senas already has three routers in Shivaji Park and six more are being set up, taking the number up to 12 routers for the area
Each of the Senas already has three routers in Shivaji Park and six more are being set up, taking the number up to 12 routers for the area

According to plans, MNS chief Raj Thackeray had planned to inaugurate free Wi-Fi Internet services for the area at 6 pm yesterday. Media invites had also been sent out to ensure coverage of the launch. However, an hour before the function, Shiv Sena upended their rival’s plans and started their own Wi-Fi network.

Posters featuring Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray asked people to “check their Wi-Fi connection.” Sena routers are situated at Ganesh Mandir, Shri Samarth Vyayam Mandir and one between these locations. Three more are set to come up.

Posters by Shiv Sena asking people to switch on their Wi-Fi and use their newly launched network
Posters by Shiv Sena asking people to switch on their Wi-Fi and use their newly launched network

As per sources, at around 5 pm, the Sena phoned in the media and called them to the spot opposite the Mayor’s Bungalow and inaugurated their own network.

It’s said that Samadhan Sarvankar, office bearer of the Yuva Sena, called Aaditya Thackeray at the last moment, who gave a quick approval for the inauguration. Sarvankar is the son of former MLA and Sena Vibhag Pramukh Sada Sarvankar.

Meanwhile, MNS managed to wrap up the opening ceremony by 6 pm. They, too, have three routers of range 200 metres each one above Raj Thackeray’s house, one near the Café Coffee Day outlet towards Prabhadevi and one at Sugee building. Three more are in the works.

Pointing fingers
Both parties are accusing the other of trying to hog publicity. “All the routers have a radius of 300 metres and are paired to each other. We had planned this long ago, but didn’t wanted to garner publicity and hence, we inaugurated it without any hullabaloo,” claimed Sarvankar, whose party managed to rope in MTNL to provide services with an unlimited plan.

Technology experts said that being paired means if one goes out of the range of one router, one would automatically be in the range for the next router. MNS has roped in a private firm called Convergent Telecom Private Ltd. “Unlike MNS, we went for a government provider because it’s safe and the data will be stored with the government,” Sarvankar said with pride.

Not to be left behind, Sandeep Deshpande, group leader from MNS in the BMC, who had initiated the idea in his party, gave a scathing reply, “We had the idea well in advance. Sarvankar has put a router on the top of his house and it’s not worthy. It’s a cheap publicity stunt.” Both parties claim the services are completely free, won’t be a burden on them and that both are secure.

Security issues?
The game of one-upmanship seems to be gathering pace with the assembly elections nearing Raj Thackeray has announced his candidature for the polls, and he is known to prefer Dadar-Mahim. Meanwhile, his cousin Uddhav is being portrayed as a potential chief minister. However, none of the parties have thought of an unguarded Wi-Fi zone.

In 2008, American citizen Ken Haywood came under the scanner when his Wi-Fi connection in his Sanpada apartment was alleged hacked into, and a threatening email was sent using the connection prior to the Ahmedabad bomb blasts. The Anti-Terror Squad had raided his house and seized computers. Haywood, who was said to be a corporate trainer, fled the country.

When Vijay Mukhi, an IT expert, was asked how secure it was to have these six spanking new Wi-Fi connections openly in the city, he said, “These Wi-Fi connections are a good idea. This needs to be done everywhere, as people are always on the move.

Also, it is very secure to have Wi-Fi connections nowadays, so it shouldn’t be a problem. None of the top cops were available for comment on the issue. Meanwhile, Shivaji Park is set to have a whale of a time, what with so many new internet routers.

With inputs from Chetna Yerunkar

Enjoy free Internet

Shiv Sena routers
>> Ganesh Mandir
>> Shri Samarth Vyayam Mandir
>> One between these two locations
>> Three more coming up

MNS routers
>> Raj Thackeray’s house
>> CCD building (towards Prabhadevi)
>> Sugee building
>> Three others coming up

Did you know?
In January this year, Bangalore became the first city in India to offer free wi-fi services. Hotspots at five locations offer 50 MB of data download and allow three hours of surfing

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