Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Sardar Tara Singh and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Shishir Shinde were booked by the Navghar police after they led a mob that allegedly burnt down around 250 shanties in an illegal slum in Neelam Nagar area, Mulund (East), on Sunday.
Nearly 25-30 makeshift huts were gutted in the fire. There were no casualties, officials from the Gavanpada fire brigade said.
Qaiser Khalid, additional commissioner of police, east region, told HT that Singh and Shinde were among 175 persons booked under a host of charges, including unlawful assembly, rioting and assaulting a public servant to deter him from his duty, apart from the Bombay Police Act. No arrests were made till late in the night.
According to the police, the incident occurred around 11.40am when a mob gathered around the slum, which had allegedly come up on a government land, and started burning it.
When the police tried to stop them, the crowd turned violent and allegedly attacked the policemen. Khalid said the place where the incident took place belonged to the revenue department and the government was already in the process of removing the illegal hutments.
Nandkumar Vaity, Nationalist Congress Party corporator from Gavanpada, said encroachers had taken over the plot 10 days ago.
“There were attempts made by miscreants to pitch bamboos and build makeshift huts on the land. We had written to the collector asking him to demolish these huts and ensure that no further encroachment was possible,” he said.
Vaity said when politicians from various parties took out a morcha against the delay in action, locals from the area joined in and set fire to the huts.
When contacted, Singh said while he was a part of the protest, he did not indulge in any illegal act.
“This issue concerns people of my constituency and hence I was a part of the morcha. I don’t know who burned down the huts.”
Shinde said he was happy with his action.
“They were illegal huts and I am proud that we taught them a lesson,” he said.