MNS workers attack hawkers at Vashi station, Nirupam booked for holding illegal rally
Five Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers were brought in for questioning on Monday in connection with the attack on hawkers at Vashi railway station in a bid to evict them from the premises.
The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon when a group of workers attacked the hawkers and damaged their stalls located outside the station, a Vashi police station official said.
All workers were subsequently booked for rioting and are in the process of getting arrested.
MNS, meanwhile, has claimed that the authorities were given ample time to act. But they chose to remain complacent, forcing the party to take action.
“We had written to CIDCO, railway authorities and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation more than 20 days ago, asking them to act against illegal hawkers in 15 days. It has been more than a week since the deadline expired, and hence we decided to take matters in our hands,” MNS Navi Mumbai president Gajanan Kale told reporters.
A video of the MNS workers vandalising stalls outside the station has also gone viral on social media. “It is a serious issue and we will take action. We will identify the accused from the video and arrest them,” said Senior Police Inspector Ajay Landge.
Sanjay Nirupam booked after attack on MNS workers
On Saturday, MNS workers and hawkers had clashed near suburban Malad railway station in Mumbai. The incident took place hours after Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam addressed the rally of around 100-150 hawkers.
In his address, the Congress leader had said that hawkers will not tolerate hooliganism of MNS activists. “I would not tolerate such high-handedness of MNS leaders against hawkers. The hawkers are capable enough to retaliate to MNS aggression,” he had said.
After the rally, hawkers allegedly attacked MNS workers. At least four activists were injured during the scuffle, following which seven hawkers were booked under various sections of the IPC, including 307 (attempt to murder).
Malad police even registered a case against Nirupam for holding the rally without a prior permission, said Mumbai Police spokesperson and DCP Deepak Devraj.
The Congress leader was booked under sections 143 (whoever is a member of an unlawful assembly), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 37 (co-operation by doing one of several acts constituting an offence) of the IPC.
Even as police are trying to find evidence to see if Nirupam instigated the hawkers, the leader tweeted, “An MLA of #BJP assaulted Hawkers-No FIR MNS goons attack Hawkers daily-No FIR But FIR against me for sympathising with poor ppl #NewIndia Hai.(sic)”
Cops also booked around 40 MNS workers for rioting and arrested 18 of them.
Meanwhile, MNS has accused Nirupam of inciting hawkers to attack its cadre, while Nirupam has alleged that MNS workers regularly extort money from the poor hawkers.
MNS’ anti-hawker drive
In the wake of the Elphinstone Road station foot overbridge (FOB) stampede on September 29, in which 23 people had died, the MNS had given a fifteen-day ultimatum to the railway administration and the police to clear the foot overbridges of illegal hawkers.
The party had warned that if the authorities fail to evict hawkers by October 20, it would take the responsibility of removing them from the station premises upon itself.
Since the deadline, MNS activists have held protests, thrashed hawkers, damaged their goods and evicted the from Thane, Santacruz, Kandivali, Mumbai Central, Kalyan, Dombivali, Dadar and Malad railway stations.
The drive has led to the arrest or detention of dozens of MNS activists.