Both Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are trying to outdo each other by vandalising toll plazas in the state before Lok Sabha election. Few days back, Shiv Sena activists had gone on a rampage by damaging toll booths in Kolhapur. Sena was trying to project its aggressive side attacking toll plazas. Later, MNS too jumped into the foray and started vandalising toll boths and also urged people to stop paying toll charges. Thus both parties are trying to gain political mileage out of the toll issue.
Shiv Sena’s assault on toll plaza had taken a violent turn as party activists had vandalised four toll booths in Kolhapur. Protesters vandalised the office of IRB Infrastructure Developers, a private company, which manages the toll booths on nine roads leading to the city. The Shiv Sena anti-toll action committee had launched a hunger strike saying that they would not call off the agitation unless the state government halts toll collection. Not to be left behind, MNS too began vandalising toll plazas in the state. At least half a dozen toll plazas were vandalised by suspected MNS activists after party chief Raj Thackeray asked workers not to pay toll tariff.
Since last two days, MNS workers have rampaged through toll booths in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kalyan, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nashik, in a repeat of the party’s agitation last year. Additional security has been provided at all such booths and the police are on special alert for trouble. A toll booth at Dahisar check post was raided by a group of MNS activists on Sunday night and damaged, according to Thane rural police.
In Kalyan, several toll booths were raided by suspected MNS men led by local MLA Prakash Bhoir, police sources said, adding complaints have been registered against miscreants under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
By Monday morning, violence by MNS workers had been reported in Mumbai’s entry points of Thane and Airoli, as well as on toll booths of the busy Mumbai-Pune expressway, which also reportedly disrupted traffic on the highway.
Over all 78 MNS supporters including MLAs were arrested by police for vandalizing the toll plaza. Opposition remarked this stunt of Raj Thackrey as a loss to the state exchequer and demanded strict action against the offenders.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The MNS party’s assault on toll plaza is unjustified as nobody has rights to vandalise toll booths. They are only wasting the taxpayers hard earned money.”
MPCC president Manikrao Thakre said, “Strict action will be taken against the accused. Such type of act needs to stopped.”
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said, “The MNS party has been asking people to refrain from paying toll charges which is unjustified. We won’t tolerate such type of anti-social activities and strict action will be taken against the accused.”
Vinod Tawade leader of opposition in the Maharashtra legislative Council, BJP said, “Such kind of incidents has occurred earlier too. The MNS and Sena had attacked toll plazas but the government merely put the signboards near toll plazas but they continue to levy toll charges.”