Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and its suburbs, again witnessed political hooliganism on Sunday night, when MNS workers attacked toll booths across the Mumbai Metroplitan region, demanding their abolition.
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The political workers of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) went on rampage, vandalizing the toll booths, after the party chief urged them not to pay road toll at a rally in Navi Mumbai.
“If there is any instance just crush toll nakas. If there is traffic jam let it be, let the situation take its own course. Do not bother, just don’t pay toll at any toll booths,” Raj Thackeray told party workers at the rally.
The party workers targeted toll booths in Mulund, Airoli, Dahisar, Thane and Raigad district. Toll booths in Mumbai-Pune and Nagpur area were also vandalized.
Mumbai Entry Points (MEPL) which handles toll collections has demanded enhanced security protection at the toll booths till the elections.
The state government has threatened strong action against MNS. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said that no violence would be tolerated. Many MNS workers have also been arrested.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has said that it is not possible to abolish road toll. “We can’t abolish it as we have launched several projects on PPP (private- public partnership) basis, since it is not possible for the state government to rasie funds for the construction of the roads and flyovers on its own. Private investors can recover their collection only from toll collection,” a Times of India report quoted him saying.
Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has also been aggressively pursuing the same issue. The party had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court in February 2012, demanding a transparency in the toll collection. The issue is to come up for hearing on February 5.
There have been instances of similar attacks in the past as well. On January 16, MNS workers had attacked a toll booth at Katai. On January 12, Shiv Sainiks vandalized four booths in Kolhapur. In June 2012, MNS workers has attacked and damaged booths across Maharashtra, urging people not to pay toll. On November 30, 2010, six MNS activists were held for vandalising a toll naka at Kongaon at Bhiwandi.