Toll protests: MNS chief detained, then releasedhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/toll-protests-mns-chief-detained-then-released/

Toll protests: MNS chief detained, then released

The state-wide ‘rasta roko’ against toll plazas called by MNS chief Raj Thackeray began on Wednesday.

Mumbai Police on Wednesday detained MNS chief Raj Thackeray to isolate him from scores of his supporters while he was on his way to Vashi to take part in an agitation against toll collection. He was spirited away to the RCF police station, where he was held for an hour before being released with a warning.

Thackeray was served a police notice on Tuesday warning him against creating law and order problem, following which he declared he would take part in his party’s state-wide agitation.

Thackeray was detained just when the demonstrations by MNS workers were gathering steam in various parts of the city. Realising that MNS chief’s personal involvement would only add fuel to the fire and create a possible law and order problem, a police team, led by Additional Commissioner of Police Praveen Salunke, stopped Thackeray’s convoy of 25 cars and 150 two-wheelers in Sion at around 10.40 am while he was on his way to Vashi in Navi Mumbai from his Shivaji Park residence.

“There was also an additional concern of letting it look like the Mumbai police had exported its problems to the Navi Mumbai police by letting Thackeray go to Vashi undetered in spite of knowing what the situation was. People had already started gathering in large numbers in Vashi, Dahisar and Vikhroli by the time he left for Navi Mumbai,” said a senior IPS officer.

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The MNS chief was taken to Chembur RCF police station and around 1 pm he was released, sparking jubilation among supporters gathered outside the police station. “I wish to urge my party members to ensure a peaceful protest and to make sure that there is no damage to property. The purpose of the agitation was to make our point, which we have,” Thackeray told his supporters outside the police station. He also said that he had received a phone call from CM Prithviraj Chavan who had asked him to meet him on Thursday.

However, the Opposition slammed Thackeray calling his party a B-team of the ruling Congress-NCP alliance. “The government’s hand is evident in this drama. With the Shiv Sena-BJP combine gaining in the state, the Congress and NCP are propping up certain parties as their fronts for electoral gains,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said.

MNS leaders, however, pointed out that the agitation was called off as they did not want to inconvenience the people. “If nothing comes out of tomorrow’s meeting with the CM, we will be take out a morcha to Mantralaya on February 21. If people’s anger boils over at that time, we should not be blamed,” senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said.

(WITH INPUTSA FROM ZEESHAN SHAIKH)