Mumbai, Oct 5: Raj Thackeray‘s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is set to hold a protest rally against the poor quality of rail infrastructure, days after the Mumbai Elphinstone stampede which killed 23 and left several injured. The rally will start at 11:30 AM from Metro theatre to Churchgate on Thursday. Over 50,000 MNS supporters are expected to take part in the rally.
Tight security has been arranged in Churchgate. MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Wednesday posted a message on Facebook asking ‘sisters, brothers, and mothers in Maharashtra’ to participate in the rally in large numbers. Thackeray on Wednesday said that he will participate in the rally in front of Western Railway headquarters and has urged Mumbaikars to come in large numbers. However, a report says that Thackeray has not received the permission to hold the rally. (Also Read: Stampede Will Continue in Mumbai Till Hordes of Migrants Continue to Arrive, Says Raj Thackeray)
On Tuesday, MNS leaders Sandip Deshpande, Satyawan Dalvi and Snehal Jadhav and other workers met local train commuters urging them to join the rally against the poor quality of rail infrastructure in Mumbai.
On September 30, Thackeray spoke out against the bullet train project saying: “While people are struggling to survive in the cities, Modi is asking them to do yoga and campaign for Swachh Bharat. We will launch a no bullet train campaign.” He had alleged that Suresh Prabhu was replaced by Piyush Goyal only to push the bullet train project. (Also Read: Elphinstone Bridge Stampede: Railways May Change Mumbai Local Timings)
“This Goyal is useless, Prabhu was good…Does one need bullet train or improvement of basic rail infrastructure?” he asked.
What is more interesting is if this rally would prove to be a turning point for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena as in 2012. In 2012, the Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik was transferred soon after Thackeray held a huge protest demanding his removal for alleged mishandling of the Azad Maidan violence.
The Elphinstone stampede took place on September 29. Due to heavy rains, commuters had taken shelter at the bridge. A probe report said that a flower seller’s cry, ‘phool gir gaya’ was heard as ‘pul gir gaya’ which led to the stampede.
On October 2, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) stopped trains during a ‘rail roko’ protest at Kalwa railway station, Mumbai. The NCP said the ‘casual approach’ of Central Railway authorities towards the safety of suburban commuters led to the stampede.