After getting clearance from the police for its rally at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has refused to back down from its plan to have a protest march as well, despite it not being authorised.
Strong security arrangements were put in place since early morning across Mumbai, including two major highways, all major roads leading to south Mumbai, major railway stations and other locations en route.
Road blocks at strategic locations, random checks of vehicles and traffic diversions are already in force in most parts of the city in an attempt to prevent any untoward incident.
Though MNS leaders have claimed that over one lakh people will participate in the procession, police expect around 40,000-50,000 people to march from Girgaum Chowpatty to Marine Drive flyover and proceed to Azad Maidan via Metro Cinema junction.
Joint Police Commissioner (Law & Order) Rajneesh Sheth declined to disclose the actual police presence for the MNS procession, but official sources said around 12,000 policemen supervised by three additional police commissioners would be deployed.
MNS leader Raj Thackeray had said he would not curb his plan to hold the protest march despite the traffic snarls it could cause in the business district of the city.
The MNS is seeking the resignation of state home minister RR Patil and the Mumbai police commissioner for the violence following a rally held by Islamic groups on 11 August. The rally comes a day after political rivals Shiv Sena held a rally at Azad Maidan.
“I told Chavan that the administration will have to bear the consequences if the permission is not given. Chavan told me that he would speak to the police as peaceful protest is a democratic right,” Thackeray said.
He said he has asked his supporters to be alert and prevent anybody from taking advantage of the protest march and create trouble.
with inputs from Agencies