The party workers assaulted hawkers and damaged their property and vans.
Mumbai: On the last day of the Diwali celebrations on Saturday, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers went on a rampage against illegal hawkers outside Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan railway stations. The party workers assaulted hawkers and damaged their property and vans. They even attacked the Dombivali stationmaster’s officer to show their displeasure over the railways’ alleged inaction against hawkers. The MNS had issued a 15-day ultimatum for the eviction of hawkers from areas near railway stations following the Elphinstone road stampede last month.
The Congress has slammed chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for failing to act against Raj Thackeray and declared its support for the hawkers. The police have not made any arrests so far.
The first incident was reported from Thane station at 11.30 am and the MNS workers were the most aggressive and brutal here as compared to Kalyan and Dombivali. They chased most of the hawkers on west side of the station, specially targeting those that are seen squatting under the bridge that was built by the railways to transport Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses to and fro from the station.
An official said, “It is a fact that the railways have not been able break the nexus between some of our own security staff who have been receiving money from these hawkers to look the other way while they continue to sell their wares.” The official further added, “Although this is a temporary solution, the state needs to work with us in order to bring the hawker menace under control, something that will make everyone happy.”
The drama continued around noon at Kalyan and Dombivali stations, which saw similar attacks on hawkers by MNS party workers, who smashed the wares left behind by the fleeing hawkers. In fact, irate party workers also ransacked the stationmaster’s office in Dombivali.
Mumbai Congress chief, Sanjay Nirupam accused the chief minister of being hand-in-glove with Mr Thackeray and lambasted him for not taking action against the rampaging MNS workers. Speaking to mediapersons in Mumbai, Mr Nirupam said, “The CM is hand-in-glove with the MNS and hence, North Indians are being tortured.” He further added, “They have failed to enforce the Street Vendors Act, which protects hawkers, as it would have led to a survey by which illegal street vendors would have been automatically evicted. However, here the chief minister is protecting goondaism.”
On the other hand, Central Railway (CR) said that the incidents had occurred outside the railway premises. But even then, they had made sure that extra Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel were posted at stations. CR chief public relation officer Sunil Udasi said, “There are no hawkers on railway premises and the incidents have occurred outside our premises. But our RPF was on the alert.”
Although no arrests have been made so far, the Thane Nagar police station registered a case against 20 MNS workers. Senior police inspector M. Dharmadhikari said, “The cases have been registered under section 37 of the Bombay Police Act, for not taking the required permission for the agitation.”