A clash between the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) party workers at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport kept the Sahar police on their toes on Monday morning.
According to the police, they had to resort to lathicharge after around 100 workers from both parties got into an argument at 11.30am. The clash was sparked off after trade union leader Kiran Pawaskar went to open the union office at Sahar Road in Andheri (East).
Pawaskar, who quit the Sena last week, was recently inducted into the NCP.
When Pawaskar reached the office, Shiv Sena workers stopped him from entering, resulting in heated arguments between supporters of the two parties.
Pawaskar was the head of the airport union in the Sena and would run the party from the union office located near the airport. After joining NCP, he wanted to continue working in the same office, which was not acceptable to the Sena, the police said.
“We had information that Pawaskar was going to come there and had anticipated that it would lead to a clash. Hence, a police team was deputed there,” said a police officer of Sahar Airport police station, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
As the argument continued, some workers started to pelt stones, damaging vehicles parked in the vicinity.
Dilip Patil, senior inspector, Sahar Airport police station, said, “While NCP workers claimed it was Pawaskar’s office, Sena supporters said it belonged to the party and not to any individual. This resulted in a clash. We have booked members of both parties under the Bombay Police Act.”
Criticising the Sena, Pawaskar said the office rightfully belonged to them. “If the Sena really possessed a majority in this union, what was the need to bring party workers from across the city?” questioned Pawaskar. He said the Sena was getting desperate with his growing clout and the fact that workers were switching affiliation to him.
However, the Sena claimed that workers were still with the saffron party. “Pawaskar does not have even 12 members with him, forget having a majority,” said Sena leader Bharatkumar Raut.
Raut said that whole issue would be resolved in the extraordinary general body meeting to be convened on January 17.