The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's (MNS) appeal to Mumbaikars to participate in a rally from Metro Cinema to Churchgate seems to have made an impact, with the roads around the theatre blocked by protesters. As crowds started gathering, MNS chief Raj Thackeray himself found it tough to get to the spot.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray holds massive protest march from Metro Junction to Churchgate in south Mumbai demanding better railway infrastructure for commuters in wake of the tragic stampede at Elphinstone Road Station tragedy that claimed the lives of 23 people. PIC/SHADAB KHAN
MNS workers gather outside Metro Cinema this morning to protest poor railways infrastructure. Pic/ Sneha Kharabe
This morning, party leader Nitin Sardesai had to take the stage to appeal to the crowds to make way for Thackeray. MNS workers had, on Tuesday, travelled the length and breadth of Mumbai's local train network, appealing to people to participate in the rally organised from Metro Cinema to the Western Railway railway headquarters in Churchgate to protest against the poor quality of railway infrastructure in Mumbai, days after a stampede at the Elphinstone Road station killed 23 people and injured 38 others.
Amid sloganeering about scrapping Narendra Modi's ambitious bullet train project and instead of improving existing rail infrastructure in Mumbai, supporters gathered at the busy traffic junction. Predictably, while MNS promised to start the rally at 11.30 am, Thackeray had not arrived at the venue till 12.30 pm. What's more, the organisers had not sought police permission. MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande told mid-day, "For today's protest, we had intimated the police, but neither did they give us permission nor did they reject it. So, we will continue with the protest." Police personnel had, nevertheless, been deployed at the venue and along the route. A senior Mumbai police official said, "Permission has not been granted for the protest as the venue is on a busy route and protests on this route are not permitted. If there is any law and order problem, we will decide on a further course of action."
MNS chief Raj Thackeray setting out with his family for Metro Cinema at 12.15 this afternoon. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar
The last time MNS chief Raj Thackeray personally led a march was on August 21, 2012, when he protested the violence against the police and media by the Raza Academy in Mumbai.
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