The “deadline” set by MNS chief Raj Thackeray for the railway authorities to clear foot overbridges (FOBs) of illegal hawkers ending on Saturday, MNS workers resorted to force in a bid to evict hawkers from outside several railway stations.
On Saturday morning, a group of MNS workers forcibly evicted around two dozen hawkers from outside the Thane station and assaulted some of them. There were similar scenes at Kalyan, Dombivali, Vasai and Nallasopara railway stations.
“We had given hawkers a 15-day buffer. We had to agitate as the deadline has now passed. We are being forced to take law into our hands for the betterment of the city and its residents,” said MNS leader Nitin Sardesai.
An FIR was registered by the Thane Nagar police under Section 427 (mischief causing damage to the tune of fifty rupees) of the IPC and the Bombay
Police Act against Avinash Jadhav, president of the MNS Thane unit, and some others.
“We received a complaint that the accused had overturned the carts of a few hawkers sitting outside the station. A complaint has been registered, and we are investigating the case,” said senior inspector Mandar Dharmadhikari.
In spite of the agitation, hawkers at many stations were however conducting business as usual.
Opposition parties like the Congress and the NCP slammed the MNS for forcibly evicting illegal hawkers and claimed that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was “hand-in-glove” with the party. “The chief minister was well aware of the threats given by Raj Thackeray and given his track record, the chief minister should have ordered the round-up of MNS workers before the deadline they had given ended. But the CM is hand-in-glove with the MNS and hence, North Indians are allowed to be tortured,” said Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
The MNS said it would continue its protest against illegal hawkers. Raj Thackeray had, following the Elphinstone Road station stampede, held a protest rally where he issued an “ultimatum” to railway authorities, asking them to clear railway FOBs of illegal hawkers within a fortnight.
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