Mumbai, (The Hindu): Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers clashed in Dadar on Wednesday over hawkers’ eviction, when MNS workers disrupted the Feriwala Samman Morcha organised by the Congress’s city unit in support of hawkers.
Around 25 Congress workers and hawkers from Mahim, Dadar and Prabhadevi had gathered in Dadar for the march, led by former MP Eknath Gaikwad, when a group of 15 MNS workers started pelting potatoes at them, leading to a scuffle and subsequent police intervention.
Police present at the spot arrested workers of both parties. While the Congress workers were taken to Shivaji Park police station, MNS men were taken to Dadar police station. Senior PI Gangadhar Sonawane, Shivaji Park police station, said an FIR has been registered under the Bombay Police Act sections 37(1), (2) for not taking permission for the agitation, and section 135 for unlawful assembly. “Eight Congress and 15 MNS workers were detained. Certain rules need to be followed in a democracy. Mumbai Congress office bearers Rajan Bhosle and Nitin Patil were among those held.”
Mr. Nirupam said, “Congress party leaders and workers, mainly Maharashtrians, had organised this morcha to felicitate Marathi hawkers. But that, too, was disrupted by the MNS. I blame the local police for the entire drama. My only aim is to implement the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, which essentially gives rights to hawkers as well as licences. I hope this issue comes to the forefront.”
MNS tries to stop Nirupam
Around 20 workers of the Congress and MNS were detained by police in Versova, outside Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam’s residence. API S.Patil, Versova police station, said, “Around 10.30 a.m. we detained activists from both parties outside Mr. Nirupam’s residence. MNS workers had planned to block the leader from going to Dadar. This was known to Congress workers. and led to around 20 people gathering in the same area. We detained them to avoid clashes between the parties.”
Police said 15 Congress and seven MNS workers were detained for gathering at a public place under relevant sections of the Bombay Police Act. They were released 5 p.m.
MNS workers said violence was not a part of their plan. Ghanshyam Kamble, an MNS worker in Versova, said, “Although our intention was to block Mr. Nirupam, ensuring he does not reach Dadar, we did not intend to resort to violence. Our plan was to make this happen without violence.”
MNS leader Shalini Thackeray, who lives in the same area, termed it a publicity stunt by Mr. Nirupam to regain his position within the party as Mumbai Regional Congress Committee presidential elections are around the corner. “I don’t understand Mr. Nirupam’s need to politicise this issue. He is neither supported by hawker unions nor by his partymen. He serves the North Mumbai constituency, but holds the march in Dadar without permissions and still acts innocent. He is trying to challenge our party, and is politicising the issue while claiming to help hawkers.”
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