Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) hit out at Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today, accusing him of trying to reap political gains from ACP Vasant Dhoble's transfer, triggered by the death of a hawker during an eviction drive last week.
Addressing a press conference, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said that hawkers were poor people and they could not be categorised as Marathi or non-Marathi. "The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed under our constitution and nobody can take the law into their hands," Malik said, criticising Raj Thackeray for warning hawkers against taking out a morcha against ACP Dhoble.
The NCP spokesman said that issue of hawkers in Mumbai was not a new one. "George Fernandes had set up the hawkers union in Mumbai. As the city's population grew, the number of hawkers also increased. In 1997, the concept of hawkers' plaza was initiated, but was not a complete success. Even the National Hawkers Policy as per Supreme Court directives is yet to be implemented in the city," he added.
According to Malik, every machinery should function within their own jurisdiction. Backing Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vasant Dhoble, who was shunted out from his Vakola posting amid protests after a hawker died during an eviction drive, Raj Thackeray had warned hawkers against holding a rally at Azad Maidan on January 24.
"If hawkers organise a morcha at Azad Maidan and try to show their power, the MNS will show its power on Mumbai's footpaths," Raj told reporters earlier this week.
Opposing Dhoble's transfer, Raj Thackeray had said that it would demoralise the police force. "Who will dare act when there is the fear of transfer? If action is to be taken against 'outsiders' and hawkers, which policeman would come forward?" Raj had said.