After Raj Thackeray called upon his followers not to pay road toll and attack those who demand it, party workers vandalized booths across the Maharashtra State. The assault began, soon after Thackeray’s speech at a function in Navi Mumbai, and continued through next days. Definitely, Toll tax is serious loot and it is big concern for Mumbai as well as people of Maharashtra but attacking public and private properties is not justified. Many MNS workers were arrested on charges of rioting and burning. They attacked booths in and around Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Thane and Nagpur. Security was also increased outside booths, but sustaining to mobs attack is not easy. Raj Thackeray said the State could not afford to waive toll and subsidise companies that built the roads, so they are considering keeping single roads toll-free under a new policy. Raj’s announcement to his people, don’t pay a single rupee as toll and those asking it should be smashed. If traffic jams occur, so be it.
Until they explain why we are paying toll, we should not pay it. Such instruction definitely going to cause violence and Sena are famous for rioting, vandalizing and attacking. The police should have arrested MNS party leader for inciting violence. The leader should be asked to pay for the damages caused to public property. State has no guts to keep him in jail, as they know the deprecations. Thackeray was booked in two cases. Police can only book him. But they have no courage to arrest him and put him behind bars. If that happens, then Mumbai will witness riots worse than Gujarat or anywhere else. These arrests are just another drama by the Mumbai police.
If someone is collecting the toll, they also have the duty to keep the road in primordial condition. If someone has organized a violence resulting in property damage, the provocateur has to face the law for malice. The company who has the ownership and collecting the toll has the right to sue the people who organized the violence. Extrajudicial and vigilante actions are unacceptable in any civilized society. Try peaceful protest next time if there is a contentious issue to which one has the right in a democratic country. We are paying toll for years in Mumbai’s entry points, exit point and expressway and still they claim money is not collected to meet the project cost. Here I should not forget to mention that Mumbai’s road conditions are not appreciable. Of course to an extent the approach adopted may not be the most appropriate but some awakening in toll collection is required. It is recommended to put credit debit card swipe machines and automatic gates at each toll. This will drastically reduce the time spent at each toll and the manpower required at each booth. Most importantly, the collection bank account should be made transparent to public such that everyone can see the toll they have paid and total collected during the day. Here I don’t think to mention that in today’s world every car or truck owner has a credit or debit card.
Maharashtra people are paying more tax than any other states in India, whereas in returns they are getting worse roads than UP. In principle, all toll collections should be stopped. The government should collect a one-time toll at the time of purchase of any vehicle by any individual. This will help government get lump sum amounts in advance which also results zero toll nakas. There will be no corruption and unaccountable collection. Issues raised by Raj are quite appropriate but the way it is handled is not fair. Leaders like him are dangerous for the harmony of the country. It’s really amazing to see one more incident of violence by these unruly members. Police in Maharashtra booked Raj Thackeray for allegedly instigating his party workers to ransack toll plazas at Khed-Shivapur on the Pune-Bangalore highway and at Manjari on the Pune-Solapur highway.
MNS workers pelted stones at the Khed-Shivapur toll plaza injuring six police personnel, two of them were women. The MNS also pelted stones at four Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses and some private vehicles. Earlier in the day, they ransacked the Manjari toll plaza. The bus passengers were so frightened that they were not ready to leave the premises of the police chowki. The police are yet to arrest the suspects involved in the attack on the office of a private company in Pune. Thackeray personally has no power, and when you say police will arrest him only if they have enough strength/courage, that strength/courage is not to arrest Thackeray, but to handle the repercussions of that. Moreover, what else they can do?