While the traders took a breather by relaxing activities for the last three days, the agitation gained momentum after Federation of Association of Maharashtra (FAM) organised a mass protest at Azad Maidan yesterday.
Taking a lesson from the previous mass protest, traders landed up at Azad Maidan with the intention of angering authorities and showing them that their strength lies in numbers.
Over 40,000 people, mostly traders and some aware citizens gathered to voice their anger against LBT. However, soon the protest got ugly and about 150 protesters were detained by the Azad Maidan police station and let off after half an hour. The officials took down their names and contact details before letting them go.
“About five-six police vans were filled with protestors. As the cops didn’t have the capacity to accommodate so many people inside the jail, they dropped most of the protesters outside Azad Maidan police station,” said Anand, member of Mumbai Textile Merchant’s Mahajan.
“We arrested about 150 people at 12:30 pm. We booked them under Section 68 under the Mumbai Police Act and released them in an hour or two under Section 69, Mumbai Police Act. There was no lathi charge,” said Constable Kapse of Azad Maidan Police Station.
The protest also garnered a lot of support from citizens who had gathered in large numbers to support the traders and shopkeepers. “We are very disappointed with the government. How can they be so selfish? They stand tall because of our votes and today they do not have time to even talk to us. How shameful is it,” said a protester.
The protest, which continued for more than two hours, also saw support from various political parties. Gopinath Munde, a senior leader of the Bhartiya Janta Party said, “LBT will be a harassment to our citizens. We shall fight till the end. I am glad to see so many supporters. If we keep our unity intact, the government will have to bend before us.”
Rukhsana Siddique, a member of the Samajwadi Party said, “We will fight for our rights. The government cannot ignore us. My party is in complete support of the traders’ rights. We will try our best to stop the implementation of LBT.”