MNS, BJP workers clash in Thane; police resorts to lathicharge
At least 20 activists were detained following a clash between BJP and MNS workers in Thane’s Naupada area on Thursday night over the issue of roadside mango stalls.
According to reports, some mango farmers had recently set up stalls on Veer Baji Prabhu Deshpande Road outside MNS’ party office in Vishnu Nagar to directly sell their produce to customers and maximise their returns.
A BJP corporator, however, raised an objection to the stalls on the grounds that they were illegal and blocking the footpath.
When a team from Thane Municipal Corporation’s (TMC) anti-encroachment squad arrived at the spot to remove the stalls on Thursday night, a verbal spat ensued between BJP workers – who came with the TMC – and their MNS counterparts.
While MNS agreed to the stalls being removed, they chastised the municipal body for their selective approach and decision to target stalls that the BJP wanted removed.
With no party willing to back down without a fight, activists resorted to sloganeering in the presence of civic officials, police, and bystanders. BJP targeted MNS chief Raj Thackeray and the MNS responded with jibes aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During the commotion, one of the workers reportedly flung a bottle towards the other side, which led to an escalation and snowballed into a physical altercation between the rival party workers.
After initial attempts of dissuading them failed, police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. BJP corporator Sunesh Joshi and MNS city president Avinash Jadhav were reportedly among those caned by the police.
Around 20 activists, across parties, were detained and subsequently taken to Naupada police station.
The situation at Vishnu Nagar soon returned to normalcy. However, several people from BJP and MNS gathered in protest outside the police station to demand the release of the detained party workers.
Meanwhile, MNS has alleged that BJP workers had sought Rs 20,000 bribe from the farmers and it was their refusal to pay that prompted the civic action.
Police are yet to confirm if there is any truth to the allegations.