At least 10,000 policemen, including the top brass, were on Mumbai’s streets on Friday to ensure Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s visit was incident-free.
The police arrested 342 Shiv Sainiks, including five party leaders, to prevent protests.
Police Commissioner D Sivanandhan said 114 women and 248 men — including legislators Vinod Ghosalkar, Anil Parab and Ravindra Waikar, and ex-legislator Dagdu Sakpal-— were arrested for disregarding the police’s notice to maintain law and order.
“We coped very well,” said Sivanandhan.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Himanshu Roy said at both venues, every entrant was checked thrice. “We saw women Sena workers in black saris and arrested them,” said Roy. “We looked for black handkerchiefs or any black cloth as they knew we would not allow any one to carry a black flag.”
Dagdu and Waikar were arrested from Ghatkopar after they came out to protest against the Congress General Secretary. Sena activists chased Gandhi’s convoy, waving pieces of black cloth.
“Ghatkopar station looked like a police camp. There was tremendous chaos and I escaped a near-stampede,” said Rajesh Talwar, a commuter at Ghatkopar station.
The police also blocked the eastern express highway from Mulund to Matunga.
Protestors burnt Gandhi’s effigy in Ghatkopar. “We detained more than 120 people. However, we are still counting the number of arrests and are investigating the cases,” said Ritesh Kumar, additional commissioner of police (East region).
Police also arrested Shiv Sena corporator Rajul Patel and 70 supporters from outside Bhaidas Hall, Vile Parle, where Rahul Gandhi had come to speak to students.
A mob of more than 100 Sena activists arrived there with pieces of black cloth.
The police had to resort to lathi charge to restrain protestors, many of them — including women — arrested for rioting and unlawful assembly.