MNS vandalizes Mumbai Congress office, terms it a 'surgical strike'
Calling it a 'surgical strike', workers from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) vandalized the Mumbai Congress office at Azad Maidan on Friday. Mumbai Congress chief retaliated that it was a cowardly attack. He further threatened that it would get a "befitting reply" if the state government failed to take action. Congress and MNS have been at loggerheads over hawkers' eviction. Here's more.
Following the Elphinstone Road stampede that claimed 23 lives in September, MNS took an aggressive stand against hawkers on railway premises. They conducted eviction drives in Malad, Vashi and Thane. However, Congress urged hawkers to not tolerate the "high-handedness" of MNS activists. They organized a rally in association with hawkers' unions at Dadar. This was disrupted by the MNS, leading to a Congress-MNS clash.
In a landmark 2013 judgment, SC ruled that the hawkers/street-vendors have a fundamental right to their occupation. It acknowledged that hawkers are a "harassed lot." Subsequently, the Street Vendors Act came into force in 2014. It provides for surveying hawkers, giving them vending certificates, demarcating vending and non-vending zones and setting up a Town Vending Committee. However, the act has not been implemented seriously.
Recently, MNS workers were attacked in Vikhroli. MNS chief, Raj Thackeray pulled up his workers saying "I don't want party workers who get beaten but those who can beat." This might have acted as a catalyst for the Azad Maidan attack. Eight-ten MNS workers barged in on the cleaning staff. They smashed cabins and the reception area with stones. There were no reported injuries.
Former CM Ashok Chavan condemned the attack saying "It's not the way to function in a democracy. A fight in thoughts and ideology must be dealt in words, not with violence." Meanwhile, MNS threatened to attack other Congress offices. For this incident, the unidentified have been captured on CCTV footage. Police has assured that fair investigation will be carried out.