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Maharashtra braces for MNS anti-toll road blockades
Tuesday February 11, 2014 11:50 PM, IANS

The Maharashtra government machinery and the police are gearing up to handle the proposed statewide road blockades by a defiant Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

Despite police notices and warnings, MNS plans to go ahead with its protests Wednesday against toll collection in the state, a party official said here Tuesday.

"We have received the notice under Criminal Procedure Code Sec. 149 asking us to refrain from any activity that could result in law and order problems tomorrow (Wednesday). We keep getting such notices every time we launch an agitation," said an MNS spokesperson.

Security personnel have been deployed at sensitive locations, major roads, highways, junctions and entry-exit points to important cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Aurangabad and Nagpur.

Security has also been beefed up at the 145 toll collection booths across the state, including five in Mumbai, to prevent human casualties or damage to property.

The apprehensions of the security agencies stem from the experience of the past few weeks when alleged MNS activists vandalised several toll booths in Kolhapur, Thane, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Pune.

The anti-toll agitation started when MNS chief Raj Thackeray urged people not to pay toll at a Navi Mumbai rally Jan 26.

Last Sunday, he announced the statewide road blockade programme in Pune.

The MNS has made it clear that all toll collection should be stopped for projects where the costs have been recovered and even in others, the rates should be rationalised.

A grim state Home Minister R.R. Patil has warned that the government would not hesitate in arresting Thackeray to prevent any law and order issue.

In contrast, Nationalist Congress Party state president Bhaskar Jadhav has urged Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to abolish all toll collection on two-lane highways and bridges to offer relief to rural people.

State PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal urged Thackeray to settle the issue through negotiations instead of adopting an agitational approach.

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