MNS activists Thursday vandalised the Kharegaon toll plaza close to the Mumbai-Nashik Highway in the presence of their party chief Raj Thackeray after a woman MNS activist claimed a worker there had misbehaved with her.
It all started when three MNS workers, Kalpana Kapote, Shagufta Pimple and Archana Chindarkar, were on their way from Kalyan to Kalwa and were asked to pay toll at the Kharegaon booth. The three women reportedly told the operator they would pay toll only when the road condition improved and an ambulance and toilet was made available on the stretch. Upon this, a worker at the booth, Lakhan Pagare, allegedly abused them after which they went to the Kalwa Police Station to lodge their complaint.
By this time, however, MNS workers got to know of the incident and party chief Raj Thackeray, who was incidentally on his way from Mumbai to Nashik on a two-day visit, also decided to reach the place.
Subsequently, MNS workers attacked the plaza and destroyed property in Thackeray’s presence.
The police resorted to a mild lathi-charge and detained over 100 MNS activists.
Thackeray then left the place and headed to Nashik.
The Kalwa police later arrested 16 MNS workers. “They raised their hands on our personnel who were trying to control the situation. We have charged them with rioting, damage to property and obstructing government servants from discharging their duties. So far, there is nothing to establish MNS claim that toll plaza workers abused any women,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (Kalwa division) Amit Kale said.
After his meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan last week, Thackeray had asked people not to pay any toll until the government brought in its new toll policy. He had threatened to assault toll operators who forced people to pay toll.