FIR lodged against 18 Sena corporators, others

MUMBAI : An FIR was registered against 18 Shiv Sena corporators and eight to 10 party workers at Bhayander police station on Tuesday for reportedly causing damage to public property and stopping a public servant from discharging his duty.

On Tuesday, the Shiv Sena corporators and workers allegedly went on a rampage, destroying furniture and breaking windowpanes at the Standing Committee room in the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation and the mayor’s office.

The FIR, Bhayander police said, was filed by the municipal secretary on Tuesday night, but no arrest has been made so far. “We have booked 18 Shiv Sena corporators along with 10 unknown people under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code among others,” a senior officer from Bhayander police said. Of the 18 corporators at least nine are women, the officer said.

The accused are also facing charges under sections 37 (1) (power to prohibit certain acts for prevention of disorder) and 135 (penalty for contravention of rules or directions under section 37) of the Maharashtra Police Act. “We are also investigating the matter. Several videos and CCTV footage of the incident are available. We are gathering the evidence as of now,” the officer said.

The Sena corporators had been reportedly demanding a discussion on the proposed Balasaheb Thackeray auditorium and cultural centre. They allegedly took to violence when their demands were denied at the Standing Committee meeting on the ground of paucity of funds. Mayor Dimple Mehta claimed that she and other women corporators were also abused and mistreated.

Local BJP leaders have expressed displeasure over the incident, with party MLA Narendra Mehta also expressing reservations about fighting the upcoming elections together. The Sena, meanwhile, accused the BJP of “foul politics”. “This is a misuse of power by the BJP through police and other officials. We do not condone the damaging of property and those who were responsible should be held accountable, there are several names on the FIR who were not even involved (in the incident). Women corporators have been booked for rioting. This is unjust targeting,” Sena leader and MLA Pratap Sarnaik said.

Referring to Mehta’s comments and the party’s seat-sharing talks for the upcoming assembly elections in the state, Sarnaik said: “Despite being a senior leader, I know my place in the party. The decision for our party is taken by Uddhav Thackeray. If the BJP leaders are free to make their minds independently, they are welcome to do so.”

According to Sena leaders, the demand for Thackeray kaladalan has been made over the years, but sidelined and ignored by the BJP. The BJP, however, has claimed that the matter was not being discussed due to lack of funds. Mayor Dimple Mehta said, “Balasaheb Thackeray is revered by us too. We also feel the need for the kaladalan. But the corporators are trying to float tenders of Rs 11 crore when the budget for the kaladalan is Rs 6 crore. This was pointed out by the chairperson, who had asked for details of how much money each corporator was contributing from their funds. Hence the issue was not taken up on Tuesday.”