Five tolls posts in Pune city and district along with an office of Reliance company near the New Katraj tunnel were ransacked by the activists of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) late on Sunday. Claiming that toll collection in the state is done wrongfully, party chief Raj Thackeray had on Sunday told his workers to not pay the tax and teach a lesson to those who ask for it.
MNS activists also tried to damage toll posts at others spots, but police managed to control the situation by detaining several of them.
The MNS rage started around 11.30 pm on Sunday. A group of activists led by corporator Rupali Patil Thombre of Shukrawar Peth damaged the toll post at Bavdhan near Chandni Chowk. An offence in the case was registered with the Hinjewadi police station. Thombre along with six other MNS activists were arrested on Monday. They were booked under Sections 427, 143, 145, 147, 148, 149 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
Police said the seven persons arrested were seen in the video footage obtained from the CCTV cameras installed at the Bavdhan toll post. The MNS activists were produced before a magistrate court and were remanded in police custody for two days.
Meanwhile, another group of MNS workers led by their city chief Bala Shedge and senior activist Ajay Shinde ransacked the Reliance company office near New Katraj tunnel on Sunday afternoon. An offence in this case was registered at the Bharati Vidyapeeth police station.
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MNS activists also went to Moshi toll post but the cops had already reached the spot. About 14 MNS activists, including corporator Anant Korhade and Pimpri Chinchwad chief Sachin Chikhale, were detained.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (special branch) M B Tambade said, “Security has been stepped up at toll posts in the jurisdiction of Pune city police. Cops prevented the rampage at Moshi toll post. Seven persons have been arrested for damaging Bavdhan toll post. Search is on for suspects who attacked the Reliance office.”
Apparently, MNS activists in the district went on a rampage at the Urse toll post in Talegaon Dabhade. Police said they damaged the Urse toll post on the Pune-Mumbai expressway around 1.30 am on Monday. Police have detained a local MNS leader Satish Shinde and search is on for five more MNS men.
As many as 15 MNS activists were arrested for throwing stones at the toll post in Rajguru Nagar, while six party workers — including four women — were nabbed for damaging the post in Manjri.
District Superintendent of Police Manojkumar Lohiya said, “Violence will not be tolerated. We are not taking objection to peaceful agitations. But if the activists indulge in violence, strict action would be taken against them as per the law.” He added that police officers and constables have been deployed at all toll posts in the district to prevent a law and order situation.
MNS corporator Prakash Dhore said, “All attempts, including peaceful agitations and court cases against the wrongful toll collection, had failed. So, there was no other option left. We will continue our agitation tomorrow.”
While toll collection was stopped for some time, it started again under police protection.