Shiv Sena forcibly asked shops and business establishments to shut down for protesting against the murder of Shiv Sena leader and former corporator Ashok Sawant in Kandivali. How can Sena hold city at ransom by asking shops to close for a day? Sena which is an alliance partner of the BJP ruled government is indulging in cheap political gimmick to derive mileage out of this issue. Since Mumbai had already observed bandh on January 3, was it necessary to ask shops to shut down which has created huge hardships to Mumbaikars? Business establishments already had to incur heavy losses due to the Maharashtra bandh and Monday’s closure will only affect their businesses further.
Mumbaikars had to bear the brunt of shop closure as many of them were unable to purchase essential commodities like food grains and vegetables. Even office goers had to face hardships as they were finding it difficult to have lunch, as hotels too remained closed for the day. Shopkeepers criticised Sena’s move to forcibly shut shops in the city and said that the party could instead have held peaceful demonstrations. Opposition parties attacked the government for its failure to maintain law and order in the city. According to them, Sena should remain sensitive towards the interests of trading community as they are incurring severe losses due to shut down of commercial establishments.
When AV spoke to Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Raju Waghmare, he said that political parties must not impose pressure on shopkeepers to shut their shops. He further added, “If business establishments voluntary shut down to condemn the murder then it is justified. However, nobody can forcibly ask them to down their shutters. Political parties must realise that strikes are not ethically correct as it affects the nation as a whole and its citizens. Awareness is needed among political party workers. Shutting down of shops in the aftermath of any incident is an age old tradition of Indian politics and time has come for political parties to change their mindset.”
On the other hand, Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Surve termed the allegations made against Sena pertaining to forcibly shutting down shops in Kandivali as baseless. He said, “Ashok Sawant was a popular leader in his constituency and shopkeepers had closed down their shops as a mark of respect for him. Time has changed and our leader Uddhav Thackeray never encourages forceful shutting down of shops.”
Ashok Sawant who was returning home after meeting his friend was stabbed to death on Sunday at around 10:45 pm near his residence. He was barely 200 metres away from his home. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
Mumbai NCP president Sachin Ahir said, “Sena workers are displaying their frustration and anger by forcefully asking shopkeepers to shut their shops. These are not solutions. Since Sena is a part of the government, a peaceful rally would have been more effective to show the condemnation against the murder. Senior leaders must ask party workers to exercise restraint whenever such incident occurs.”
Sawant had ventured in cable business few years back. He had reportedly been receiving extortion calls over the past couple of days and he had complained to the police.
Abu Azmi, Samajwadi Party leader condemned the murder incident and said, “Strict action must be taken against culprits responsible for Ashok Sawant’s murder. Bandhs are not a solution and it is just a political hooliganism. Since Sena is the alliance partner of the BJP government, against whom are they protesting? Since, the murder had occurred last night they should wait for the police to probe this incident and take action against the accused. The government should recover the losses incurred due to bandh from political party workers who support it.”