The full strength of the Mumbai police force was engaged in bandobast duty on Thursday as arrests, detentions and crackdowns on sporadic protests reined in the Shiv Sena’s black-flag agitations in some parts of the city.
By the end of day, the police arrested 342 Shiv Sainiks including 114 women protestors under Section 135 of the Mumbai Police Act. Prominent Sena leaders like MLAs Dagdu Sakpal, Vinod Ghosalkar, Vinayak Raut and Ravindra Waikar, and corporators Rajul Patel and Anil Parab were taken in by the police.
The Sena managed to register its protest briefly outside Ramabai Nagar, where Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi addressed his second meeting. The police lathi-charged protestors at Ramabai Nagar and D.N. Nagar, where some agitators burnt an effigy of the Congress youth icon.
As the Congress-led government and the city’s security agencies termed Mr. Gandhi’s visit a success, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said the Sena protests went off as planned.
“I congratulate the Sainiks who protested. We showed black flags at both places. I have learnt that the mobile phones of our workers were tapped since last night and arrests were made,” he said at a press conference.
Referring to the strict bandobast across the city, Mr. Thackeray said it felt like the city was under the reign of Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
“If the police put up such a robust bandobast everyday no terrorist would dare enter this city. Seeing the security arrangements Rahul Gandhi would surely have been convinced of the ability of the Mumbai police force,” he said.
“Instead of taking the train, had he gone to Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar and looked for [26/11 martyr Hemant] Karkare’s jacket, it would have been much better,” Mr. Thackeray added.
The Sena leader said Mr. Gandhi using the ATM in Mumbai symbolised the attitude of outsiders towards Mumbai. “You come to Mumbai, take the money and go.”