MNS workers attack toll booths on Raj's diktat; MLA, 31 held

MNS workers attack toll booths
Mumbai/Thane, Jan 27: A Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA and 31 of his supporters were arrested today for attacking a toll booth, as the party workers went on rampage vandalising toll plazas in various parts of state on Raj Thackeray's diktat not to pay the levy and "thrash" those who oppose it.

Party MLA Pravin Darekar and 31 of his supporters were arrested at Dahisar for attacking a toll booth. Later, they were produced in a local court, which released them on bail. The vandalism invited condemnation from the state's ruling Congress-NCP alliance and demand for action against MNS.

"Aadve aale tar tudvun kadha" (if anyone raises a voice, thrash them). Unless you are told why toll is being levied, no one will pay," Thackeray had exhorted his party workers at a function in Navi Mumbai last night.

Hours later, they were on streets, pulling down barriers and unleashing violence. At least half-a-dozen toll booths were ransacked by MNS activists in Thane district, adjoining Mumbai, alone. Several toll booths in Kalyan township of the district were raided by MNS supporters led by local MLA Prakash Bhoir.

Cases have been registered in connection with the attacks. State Congress president Manikrao Thakre denounced the incidents and said he had discussed the matter with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. The Chief Minister, he said, had assured him that police complaints would be filed and action taken against the perpetrators. "But what about those who incited the violence? Legal action should also be taken against them," Thakre said without naming Raj.

Thakre said the decision to levy toll for using various roads and bridges was taken by the Shiv Sena-BJP government for projects taken up on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, he added.

Senior NCP leader and Union Minister Tariq Anwar also slammed Raj Thackeray for the incidents, saying," he (Raj) has been adopting such tactics for cheap popularity. He should change his ways."

MNS has been targeting the government for continuing to levy toll for use of roads and bridges whose cost has already been recovered without providing better amenities. Meanwhile, reinforcements have been rushed to vulnerable toll plazas, police said.


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