Mumbai, Feb 12 (PTI): Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray was arrested at suburban Chembur on Wednesday as the state-wide 'rasta roko' against toll plazas called by the party began with several protesters being taken into custody for disrupting traffic at many places across the state.
Raj, who left his home in Dadar in central Mumbai at about 10am, was stopped in Chembur and arrested by police while he was heading towards the Vashi toll booth. He had planned to lead the road blockade at the Vashi toll plaza.
According to police, Raj was taken in a police van along with his party workers.
Police took MNS workers into custody at several places including Pune, Ahmednagar and Vasai. Tyres were burnt in Thane, while in Pune MNS workers deflated tyres of some vehicles.
The stir has begun despite police serving a notice to Raj warning against participating in the agitation.
Undeterred by the notice, Thackeray, whose supporters vandalised scores of toll plazas across the state over the last fortnight, said traffic on the state highways was stopped from 9am.
In Dahisar, a suburb of Mumbai, a group of hundred people led by MNS legislator Pravin Darekar began protesting near Dahisar toll plaza. But nobody was detained from the spot, police said.
In Pune, police rounded up about 25 MNS activists when they tried to disrupt traffic at Chandani Chowk along Pune-Mumbai highway in response to the 'rasta-roko'.
Tyres of some heavy vehicles were deflated by the party workers, led by former MNS corporator Rajabhau Gorde, in the demonstration at Chandani Chowk.
A similar protest near Amritanjan bridge along the highway disrupted vehicular traffic temporarily, police said, adding that a heavy bandobast has been put at various points in the city leading to highways where the toll collection booths are set up.
On Tuesday, police had served a notice on Raj under section 149 of the CrPC, asking him to respect the law of the land and refrain from taking up any activity that would cause a law and order problem.
However, in some relief for commuters, Raj had said that life in cities would not be affected. “We have decided to exclude schools and colleges from the stir in view of exams. The cities won't be affected by the stir,” he had said.
”A person from the state government was in touch with me on the phone requesting me to call off the stir,” the MNS leader has said Tuesday.
Maharashtra Police has decided to press into service contingents of Rapid Action Force and State Reserve Police to deal with the stir.