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Sena workers burn down BEST billing station

Press Trust Of India
Jun 25, 2009 at 06:17pm IST

Mumbai: Shiv Sena's agitation against the power tariff hike in Maharashtra continued for the second day on Thursday.

Around 04:00 hrs IST on Thursday, suspected Shiv Sena party workers burnt down a BEST billing station in Worli. They left behind a poster asking people not to pay the high electricity bill.

Protests against hike in electricity charges by Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Energy Ltd turned violent on Wednesday. Trucks were torched and police resorted to lathicharge to disperse Shiv Sena workers who disrupted traffic on the Western Express Highway.

POWER TUSSLE: Shiv Sainiks are protesting a hike in electricity charges by Anil Ambani's Reliance Energy Ltd.

A total of 126 Shiv Sainiks, including senior party leaders Subhash Desai and Gajanan Kirtikar, were arrested for arson and traffic disruption and over 100 others detained, Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) Amar Jadhav said, adding that, the situation was under control.

Subhash Desai demanded that the government should intervene with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) and put off the increase in rates. The distribution companies should be instructed to make billing according to the old rates, he said.

Asking consumers not to pay bills, Desai said, "If representatives of the companies come to disconnect your power connection, stop them by taking help of Shiv Sainiks. Your disapproval about the costly electricity should be conveyed to the government in writing."

While some protesters were let off after preventive arrests, Desai, Kirtikar and some others involved in violence were produced before various courts and granted bail.

Ten offences were registered in different police stations against hundreds of Sainiks, including senior leaders.

"Protesters torched three trucks, including two of Reliance Energy at Kandivli and Goregaon. Stone pelting incidents were also reported from some places," Jadhav said on Wednesday.

Besides Western Expressway highway, some major roads were also jammed for a few minutes as hundreds of Sena workers took to the streets, he added.

The Shiv Sena also took a swipe at the Tatas and the Ambanis through their magazine Saamna.

In their editorial, they said: "Those Tatas, Ambanis may be wealthy, but what about the poor? They have the Nano on one hand and rising power costs on the other. Ambanis touch our feet, but only if they lower rates, they'll have our blessing. Don’t spread darkness in the lives of the common man, the poor. The Sena is never going to support profiteering businessmen or the rich.”

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