Mumbai: In a grim reminder of 26/11, Mumbai citizens on Monday were needlessly subjected to much hardship. The city was densely barricaded, even though the threat perception did not warrant it, with nakabandis at every nook and corner. Result: the hapless citizens had to go through elaborate frisking and painstaking checking.
The barricades too were placed at angles so as to impede traffic and slow it down; but even after meandering through the narrow openings, the vehicles continued to move for miles bumper to bumper like a slithering snake. The city, in fact, commemorated 26/11 with traffic snarls. And all this, because of ‘intelligence input’ on account of the Marathi morcha, which was to culminate at the Mantralya.
South Mumbai was most affected but across the city, commuters travelling by road took to the social media and tagged Mumbai police with their complaints. However, the police, for once, was not responding to the complaints on Twitter with the usual gusto. “It was a horrible scene, it took me almost two hours to reach my destination which normally takes 45 minutes. #EpicFail,” said Kirtanaha. Another citizen Ameya lamented. “Massive traffic congestion due to #nakabandi towards south Mumbai.
After going through the nightmarish snarls, it was exasperating to see cops chat mindlessly in groups, unmindful of our plight, not even bothering to gaze at the cars that were passing by. What’s the point, @MumbaiPolice,” demanded Ameyaraich The traffic police and the local police had been instructed to conduct anti-sabotage checks on all vehicles. On Sunday night, nakabandis were carried out at Mantralaya, Colaba, Marine Drive and Girgaon Chowpatty in South Mumbai.
Manjunath Singe, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Mumbai spokesperson said, “The nakabandis have been carried out throughout the city as a precautionary measure. It is an anti-sabotage check to ensure safety and security in the city due to 26/11. There is no terror alert in the city. The anti-sabotage check is carried out to look for suspicious or unwarranted materials.”
Among those who suffered were occupants of ‘share taxis’, which ferry four persons. Policemen were seen stopping and questioning the passengers and drivers. Women, too, were not spared, and many were asked to roll down their windows. According to the police, the Maratha agitators had started their ‘Samvad Yatra’ on November 16 and had warned the government that they would converge at Vidhan Bhavan on November 26.
The agitators were expected to reach Mumbai in private vehicles from Pune and Kolhapur. Hence all private cars were stopped and checked – all the way from Panvel, Sion, Vashi to Mumbai city. Incidentally, around 40 Maratha Kranti Morcha protestors were arrested in Kolhapur. Chandrakant Patil, minister for revenue, clarified, “On the tenth anniversary of 26/11 terror attack, the police had taken precautionary measures and decided not to allow protestors to enter the city.
We have now asked them to come to the city on November 27. The government is not against Marathas holding their Samvad Yatra.” Maharashtra ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni said, “Mumbai has always been on high alert. Since it was the 26/11 anniversary, all kinds of checks had to be carried out as a precautionary measure.” After the elaborate bandobast, four protestors, who were a part of the Maratha morcha, were arrested by the Marine Drive police from near Maker Tower, Cuffe Parade.