Nakabandis throw Mumbai traffic in chaos
To prevent SP workers from gathering for a rally, police blocked traffic, report Megha Sood and Debasish Panigrahi.
Traffic at many parts in the city and suburbs was thrown out of gear when the police, in order to prevent the Samajwadi Party workers to gather for a rally at Shivaji Park at Dadar, set up 'nakabandis' (security blocks).
The blocks at as many as 40 places around the city and suburbs threw Mumbai traffic out of gear in the morning peak hours as well as at noon, earning the wrath of many motorists. At least 1,539 activists were detained including Abu Azmi while 1800 policemen were put on this duty.
Apprehending that SP party activists would try and make their way to the rally venue as per a call given by SP General Secretary Amar Singh despite the Police Commissioner AN Roy turning down permission, for the first time, a four-tier blockade was put in place, said DCP (Operations), RN Tadvi.
This was under Sections 143 and 144 of the Indian Penal Code to stop seven or more than seven people from gathering at one place.
The prohibitory orders may have deterred the SP activists from reaching Shivaji Park but it also delayed a lot of Mumbaiikars from reaching their respective destinations.
"I was on my way to Mahim from Bandra Hill Road at around 1.00pm but it took almost two and half hours in the traffic to cover a distance that on a normal day takes me ten minutes. The other motorists were also frustrated as most of them were on their way to work," said Rochele Pinto, a college student studying at St Xaviers.
Elaborating on the security arrangements, Tadvi said the first ring of security was thrown out Shivaji Park. As many as 800 police personnel were deployed and all routes to the park were blocked.
All entry points into Mumbai, too, were put under surveillance since SP has a sizeable following in neighbouring suburbs like Bhiwandi and Kalyan.
Inside Mumbai, policemen were deployed in pockets where SP has some stronghold. The fourth tier was out around the offices and residences of SP leaders, said Tadvi.
Every police station in the city was in charge of the nakabandi in their jurisdiction to stop the workers. Although the nakabandi was done to prevent the gathering of a political party, it was the common people, who had to suffer.
The police personnel from all police stations in the western region of the city have been deployed for the day-night bandobast duty to see to it that the party workers do not reach at the decided spot.
Nakabandi was put up at 30 places around the city including Haji Ali, Worli, Bandra the Dahisar and Vashi check nakas. Mahim Causeway, Bandra, Milan Subway in Santa Cruz, Linking Road in Goregaon.
"Yeh nakabandi sirf hamari pareshani badane keliye hi police ne rakhi hai," (This checking conducted by the police is just to harass us) said Suresh Yadav, a taxi driver who was stuck in the traffic for more than an hour on his way to Goregaon.
According to city unit general secretary Shyam Sunder Arya, he and about 1000 activists were in police custody after being picked up from the Shivaji Park area.
The police had to use force to quell a demonstration by a group of activists after they were picked up in South Mumbai. When a small contingent of police failed to disperse a group of about 50 agitators from the Qila court complex this afternoon, reinforcement from nearby Azad Maidan police station charged at the protestors with batons and rounded up many of them.
The agitators, shouting slogans against UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and state Home Minister R R Patil, were bundled into two police vehicles and taken away to an unknown destination, witnesses said.