Police will not stop any MNS vehicles at toll booths

On the background of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray's rally to be held in Pune on Sunday evening, the state government has beefed up security on all 174 toll booths across the state in anticipation of the leader raising the issue of toll booths again.

With the intention of avoiding any confrontation, the state police have also been directed not to stop the MNS vehicles at any toll booths. Many party workers from different districts are expected to travel to Pune for the rally on Sunday.

“We have ordered all the district control rooms to secure all the toll booths in their jurisdiction by deploying adequate force at each toll booth. Officials have been directed to take adequate action to maintain peace in their area,” a police official told The Hindu on Sunday morning.

At least six police personnel will guard each toll booth, officials said. "All the Additional Superintendents of Police, SPs, Deputy Commissioners of Police have been asked to take preventive action if they have any information about the party workers' plans to vandalise any booths," a senior police officer said.

A few days back, Mr. Thackeray had appealed to his followers not to pay toll tax, following which the party workers had attacked toll booths in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nagpur. Two cases were registered against Mr Thackeray for inciting violence, but he was not arrested. The state government had said it would take appropriate steps only after seeking legal opinion.

In Maharashtra, toll is charged on 40 National Highways, 52 Highways of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation and 79 highways of Public Works Department. Many have alleged in the past that key BOT (Build, Operate, and Transfer) companies are linked to politicians.