MNS chief Raj Thackeray says his party will go ahead with the state-wide blockade of all national highways on Wednesday to protest against toll collection in Maharashtra
Escalating his confrontation with Maharashtra government over toll collection, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday said his party would go ahead with the state-wide street blockade tomorrow, hours after police served a notice to him warning against participating in the agitation.
Undeterred by the notice, Thackeray, whose supporters have vandalised scores of toll plazas across the state over the last fortnight, said traffic on the highways would be stopped from 9 am as police braced to prevent any law and order problem due to the stir.
Raj Thackeray has assured people that his agitation will not affect life in the cities. File Pic
However, in some relief for commuters, Thackeray, said life in cities would not be affected. "The rasta roko will be from 9 am tomorrow at all toll highways in the state. We have decided to exclude schools and colleges from the stir in view of exams. The cities won't be affected by the stir," he told reporters.
"A person from the state government was in touch with me on phone requesting me to call off the stir," the MNS leader said, adding a morcha would be taken out from Girgaum to Mantralaya on February 21.
"If the government does not budge by democratic means, then we have our way and you all will see it," he added.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra police have decided to press into service contingents of Rapid Action Force and State Reserve Police besides over 1.8 lakh personnel of the state police to prevent protests, IG (Law and Order) Deven Bharti told PTI.
"Adequate security arrangements have been made and all district police chiefs have been instructed to initiate strict action against demonstrators," he said.
"A notice under section 149 of the CrPC has been served to Raj Thackeray this morning, asking him to respect the law of the land and refrain from taking up any activity that would cause a law and order problem," a senior police officer said.
Raj, who is facing multiple cases for instigating his party cadres to vandalise toll booths, had said on Sunday at a rally in Pune that he was determined to go ahead with the stir until the government has made collection of road tax "transparent" and even dared the police to arrest him.
Though Raj said life in cities would remain unaffected, Mumbai's acting Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale said police will deal with the situation firmly.
"All leave have been cancelled so that maximum deployment can be made. We will ensure that no untoward incident takes place. There may be some vandalism but we will ensure the safety and security of the common man," he said.
As a preventive measure, police stations across the state had started serving notices to MNS leaders and workers since yesterday under section 149 of CrPC, which empowers police officers to take steps to prevent cognizable offences.