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MNS, Sena lock horns over hawker issue

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
By Suyash Padate. Photograph By Azad Shrivastav

A free for all like situation seems to be inevitable on the streets of Mumbai as the MNS workers have locked horns with the Shiv Sainiks over the issue of hawkers.

The Shiv Sena yesterday came out in support of the illegal hawkers who have been evicted from various spots across Mumbai. Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut has categorically stated that the hawkers cannot be evicted abruptly. Prior to this the Sena-affiliated Mumbai Hawkers Sena (MHS), an orgnisation of hawkers, had voiced its support for these hawkers and demanded that hawkers near railway stations, hospitals and educational institutions be rehabilitated.

The MNS has strongly reacted to this demand, saying due to eviction of the hawkers the money extorting activity of Shiv Sena has been stopped. MNS Vibhag Pramukh from Dadar area Yashwant Killedar said, “As the money inflow has decreased, Sena suddenly became hawker-friendly. The Sena has no business to interfere in this sensitive issue. The MNS chief Raj Thackeray will decide about the hawkers. Now we have started a public awareness campaign to get the support of Mumbaikars in this matter.”

On the other hand, in the meeting held in Goregaon on Sunday, MHS members wanted all action against hawkers stopped and the displaced ones rehabilitated in hawking zones. Ashok Dhere, president, MHS said, “The problem is, everyone wants hawkers, but not in their backyard. We are demanding that hawkers who have been evicted following the court order be rehabilitated in hawking zones. Local Maharashtrians should be given preference in new hawking zones.”

After the Elphinstone Road station stampede, since the past one month, the MNS has been attacking hawkers in the vicinity of railway stations in the hope of using people’s anger and frustration with the Railways to gain lost ground in Mumbai. This comes after MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s protest march following the stampede on October 5, when he warned the railway administration that his workers would evict hawkers MNS-style if they did not clear access to stations within 15 days. The party has said that it plans to continue this agitation.

Until now only Congress came out in open in the support of the hawkers. However, now for the first time Shiv Sena has thrown its hat in to the ring. The MNS is in no mood to relent and has announced to continue its agitation. Against this backdrop, clashes between Sena and MNS are in the offing over the issue of hawkers.

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