Wielding sticks and hurling stones, hordes of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers on Tuesday vandalised a toll plaza at the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link, even as the state's police chief said their leader Raj Thackeray's "provocative" speech that triggered the violence was being examined.
Undeterred by warnings of action, over 50 MNS workers arrived at toll booth on the sea link in cabs, threatened the staff, ransacked it and damaged glass windows, a day after damaging over a score toll plazas across the state.
Sixteen MNS workers were later arrested for unlawful assembly, rioting and deterring public servant from discharging duty, Assistant Commissioner of Police S Kolekar told PTI.
Droves of MNS workers have attacked over 20 toll collection centres in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Jalna and Aurangabad since the Sunday night speech of Thackeray in Navi Mumbai where he asked them not to pay the levy and "thrash" those who demand.
"Aadve aale tar tudvun kadha" (if anyone raises a voice, thrash them). Unless you are told why toll is being levied, no one will pay," Thackeray had said.
In no time, MNS workers, known for their strong arm tactics, were on the streets, brandishing wooden poles and iron rods, pulling down barriers, smashing toll plazas and setting them on fire.
Party Member of Legislative Assembly Pravin Darekar and 31 of his supporters were On Monday arrested and later released on bail for attacking a booth at Dahisar.
Meanwhile, state's Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal has said the alleged speech made by Thackeray that set off a series of violent incidents is under examination.
"We are examining Raj Thackeray's speech from the legal point of view. We will see if we can take legal action (against Thackeray)," Dayal told PTI.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had warned of stern action against those indulging in violence. State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre had demanded action not only against those directly involved in the violence but also those who incited it.
The MNS has been demanding that toll collection be done away with as the government is continuing with the practice despite recovery of the cost involved in constructing roads and bridges without providing improved facilities.
Image: A damaged toll booth at the Bandra-Worli Sea Link
Photographer: Sahil Salvi