Mumbai, Feb 12: The state-wide ‘rasta roko’ against toll plazas called by MNS chief Raj Thackeray began today, with reports of several protesters being taken into custody for disrupting traffic at many places across the state.
The MNS chief will be leading the stir at the Vashi toll plaza in adjoining Navi Mumbai. Police took MNS workers into custody at several places including Pune, Ahmednagar and Vasai.
Tyres were burnt in Thane, while in Pune MNS workers deflated tyres of some vehicles. The stir has commenced despite police serving a notice to Raj warning against participating in the agitation. Undeterred by the notice, Thackeray, whose supporters vandalised scores of toll plazas across the state over the last fortnight, said traffic on the state highways was stopped from 9 AM.
However, in some relief for commuters, Raj Thackeray had said yesterday that life in cities would not be affected. ”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 said. ”A person from the state government was in touch with me on the phone requesting me to call off the stir,” the MNS leader has said yesterday.
Maharashtra Police has decided to press into service contingents of Rapid Action Force and State Reserve Police to deal with the stir. As a preventive measure, police stations across the state had served notices to MNS leaders and workers under section 149 of CrPC, which empowers police officers to take steps to prevent cognisable offences.
In Dahisar, a suburb of Mumbai, a group of hundred people led by MNS MLA Pravin Darekar began protesting near Dahisar toll plaza. But nobody was detained from the spot, police said. In Pune, about 25 MNS activists were rounded up by police when they tried to disrupt traffic at Chandani chowk along Pune-Mumbai highway in response to the ‘rasta-roko’.
Tyres of some heavy vehicles were deflated by the party workers, led by former MNS corporator Rajabhau Gorde, in the demonstration at Chandani chowk. A similar protest near ‘Amritanjan’ bridge along the highway disrupted vehicular traffic temporarily, police said, adding that a heavy bandobast has been put at various points in the city leading to highways where the toll collection booths are set up. PTI