Deal firmly

The widespread violence indulged in by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers on road toll booths in many parts of Maharashtra is of apiece with the creed of lawlessness professed and practised by the party. Its parent party, the Shiv Sena, has also been known to take the law into its hands. In fact the MNS’ raids on toll booths started  after the Shiv Sena attacked a toll booth. The MNS chief Raj Thackeray issued an open call to workers to attack toll booths and they were vandalised in many cities and towns of the state. Many toll plazas suffered heavy damage. The state police failed to give them protection and were late in filing cases against the attackers, including the MNS chief who had openly instigated them. The reluctance of the police in taking action against Shiv Sena and MNS men when they resort to violence is also not new.  

The MNS has claimed that the attacks were in protest against the high and what it claims as illegal and irregular toll collections made by toll booths. It has also said that it would make the state toll-free. But the roads have been developed and are maintained by the private sector and the developers have the right to recover their investment. It was because the state was unable to make the investment that private sector participation was sought. In fact the decision to levy toll for use of roads and bridges had been made by the previous BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state. To flout such mutual agreements and to use violence to enforce the no-payment diktat is wrong. It will make private participants wary of undertaking these projects in future.

It is true that there have been complaints about irregularities in toll collections and about continued levy of toll even after the lapse of the recovery period. But there are legal avenues to redress these grievances and to take action in genuine cases of complaint. Violence and vandalism are not the remedy for this. Though other parties have condemned the MNF violence they are also sympathetic and supportive of the demand to abolish toll. This is with an eye on the coming elections. In such cases laid down procedures and regulatory norms should not be bypassed on populist considerations. Violations of laws should be dealt with strictly.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry