“If they do anything illegal, they will be dealt with as severely as permitted by law.”
With these words Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandhan on Thursday issued a veiled warning to political leaders and their supporters, who could play spoilsport during Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mumbai on Friday.
The commissioner’s warning seems to be aimed at the Shiv Sena after executive president Uddhav Thackeray warned the Congress leader against making any statements on Mumbai or the Marathi manoos issue.
However on Thursday, the eve of Gandhi’s visit, the Sena toned down its campaign saying it would only protest with black flags.
Sivanandhan, without naming any political party, said preventive action against potential troublemakers was not taken until Thursday evening. “We are reviewing and monitoring the situation. If the need arises, preventive action will follow,” he said.
The city police chief said elaborate security arrangements have been made at the venues Gandhi is likely to visit and the routes he will take. “We have deployed enough forces, including our strike forces [Quick Response Team] at all these places,” Sivanandhan said.
He refused to confirm whether the police had plans to barricade the routes.
Sources in the Mumbai police told Hindustan Times that the Special Protection Group (SPG) is already camping in the city and has been conducting a recce at the venues and routes Gandhi may use. The SPG is working closely with the Mumbai police’s special branch in formulating Gandhi’s security cover.