Members of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) yesterday attacked a government office in adjoining Navi Mumbai, to vent their ire over potholes dotting the 39-km stretch between Sion and Panvel.
Accidents on pothole-riddled roads have claimed five lives in adjoining Thane region since last month. The victims lost balance and fell as their two-wheeler hit potholes.
The MNS workers stormed in the office of the Public Works Department (PWD) at Turbhe claiming that the Sion-Panvel road is dotted with potholes and has endangered lives of commuters.
The protesters shouted slogans, smashed office equipment, threw chairs, pulled down cupboards and smashed window panes, computer terminals, CPU and printers in the office, police said.
They shouted slogans against public works minister Eknath Shinde of Shiv Sena and demanded registering of offences against those responsible for the "shoddy" condition of roads.
The demanded that officials concerned be booked for murder in cases of pothole related deaths.
An official of the APMC police station said offences have been registered against the protesters.
"If people are dying due to poor condition of roads, MNS will continue to undertake such actions. If the roads are not repaired, the next target will be Mantralaya, the state secretariat in south Mumbai," Navi Mumbai MNS unit chief Gajanan Kale said.
Reacting to the incident, Raj Thackeray said, "If the government can't see potholes, it will at least see this protest."
Meanwhile, a video of the PWD office attack has gone viral on social media. On Saturday, Maharashtra PWD minister Chandrakant Patil appeared to make light of deaths due to potholes, when he said, "When you talk about a death in such an accident, you forget that five lakh other people have travelled on the same road. You can not put the entire blame on the (condition of) roads alone."
The MNS protest came a day after Congress workers in Mumbai counted potholes in suburban Bandra as part of its "Aao Potholes Giney" (Come, let us count potholes) campaign, accusing the Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation of not being prepared for the monsoons.