While canvassing in his constituency, BJP’s Mumbai North candidate Gopal Shetty was greeted with black flags at his rally reached Borivali (East) on Thursday night.
The flags were part of a protest by nearly 120 members of Shri Ambe apartments, who are unhappy that their Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) building has not been regularised by the authorities. A building resident alleged that some of BJP workers manhandled them and the local police detained some residents till the rally went further ahead.
Several videos have emerged where people, purportedly BJP workers, are seen pushing the protesters back in the building. “The women who were at the forefront were pushed inside the building gate and the gates were forcibly shut. The flags were snatched from their hands and thrown away by the party workers,” alleged a woman resident. Another resident of the building, Paresh Parmar, alleged that he was detained by the Kasturba Marg police and was let out after Shetty’s rally got over.
“Our area was part of the slums earlier. The slums were demolished by the SRA. The project has been ready since the past 10 years and flats have been occupied. But no official agreement have been given to us for the flats. We don’t have any proof that the flats belong to us,” Parmar said.
Residents alleged that the society neither has its own entrance, office nor any parking space. Residents are forced to park their vehicles on the road. “We had reached out to Gopal Shetty several times over the matter. He had assured us help but to no avail. In February, he had agreed to partake in rasta roko protest but withdrew at the last minute,” said another resident.
Mumbai Congress general secretary Bhushan Patil said, “If their problems have not been solved, what other way do they have but to show black flags? The police were made to detain the residents citing law and order situation.”
When contacted, the BJP vice-president for the constituency, Yunus Khan, said he was not aware of the issue. Gopal Shetty, meanwhile, said that while he saw some black flags, he came to know about the matter only on Friday. “If they have not received possession papers, then I will ensure that they receive it,” he said.