Tribune News Service
Mumbai, December 1
The battle between the Mumbai unit of the Congress and Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena over hawking in public places escalated with some people ransacking the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee office at Azad Maidan near the city police headquarters on Friday morning.
According to a complaint filed by the Congress, five to six people barged into the Congress office shortly it opened for the day. The attackers suddenly stormed into the ground floor office and began smashing glass cabins, furniture and throwing around papers. Three of them were nabbed by the people nearby and handed over to the police while the rest escaped. No one was injured in the incident.
Later in the day, senior MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande claimed credit for the attack. “Surgical strike at the office of Bhaiyya Sanjay Nirupam by MNS workers,” Deshpande said in a message on Twitter.
Activists of both parties have been at loggerheads over the past few weeks over the presence at hawkers near Mumbai’s railway stations.
While the MNS has been pressing for the eviction of the mostly North Indian hawkers, the Congress led by Sanjay Nirupam has been supporting them.
Egged on by Nirupam and his associates, groups of hawkers and Congress party workers have been taking on MNS cadres on the streets. Several MNS cadres have been injured and needed hospitalisation in the process.
Nirupam, however, refused to be cowed down by the attack on the Congress office. “I can understand the frustration of #MNS, whose workers r being beaten up by Hawkers regularly. Their attack on our office is a coward act. CM @Dev_Fadnavis must act fast or a befitting reply will be given for sure,” Nirupam said in a message on Twitter.
The Congress office has been closed while repairs are being carried out, party sources said.
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