Mumbai: The Mumbai Police on Thursday imposed prohibitary orders of Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code outside the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office at Ballard Pier.
Police wanted to stop the cadre and leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) from accompanying their party chief Raj Thackeray, who was called for questioning in a money-laundering in the alleged Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) payment default case, involving the development of Dadar’s Kohinoor Square Tower.
Police stations at Marine Lines, Dadar, Azad Maidan and MG Marg made elaborate arrangements in and around areas, as the ED office was sealed from the three sides, leaving only one way for entry and exit purposes.
The area has numerous government and private offices. The police allowed only those people who worked in the vicinity of the ED building to park vehicles in the adjoining lane, that too by presenting valid identity cards.
Raj arrived at 11.20am, accompanied by his wife Sharmali, daughter Urvashi, son Amit, daughter-in-law Mitali and senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar.
Few karyakartas (workers) and body guards also accompanied the family in numerous vehicles. With heavy bandobast and police deployment, the MNS workers could not reach even close to the ED office.
In fact, due to the Section 144, Raj’s family too was not allowed to stand and wait outside the ED office, even on the pavement for long. They camped in a nearby hotel, when Raj entered the ED office for questioning. Post-8pm, after eight hours of intense grilling, Raj stepped out of the ED office.
The restrictions and preventive measures are likely to continue till Friday, as Raj is likely to be called for questioning again.
Earlier, the MNS had called for Mumbai bandh on August 22, which they withdrew immediately and Raj broke away from his “shoot and scoot” style of politics, urging his party cadres to maintain peace.
In an unexpected move, he urged his party workers and leaders to ensure no citizen is inconvenienced by the MNS. “No harm should come to any public property and the common man must not face any consequence,” Raj had tweeted.
However, despite Raj’s appeal to the party workers, Mumbai police put in place strict police vigilance. As a precautionary measure, the Mumbai police kept a tight vigil at Dadar railway station and places near Shivaji Park, the stronghold of MNS. All the 12 zones of Mumbai were put on alert.
A senior police official said the Section 144 is valid till Thursday midnight, in south Mumbai and areas adjoining the ED premises. The MNS city chief, Ravindra More, and MNS leader and close aide of Raj, Sandeep Deshpande were detained by the police on Thursday morning.
Sandeep was seen wearing a graphic T-shirt stating “EDiot Hitler” on it, while he was taken into police custody. The ED is questioning Raj relating loans worth Rs450 crore in Kohinoor CTNL infrastructure company, which is developing the Kohinoor Square tower in Dadar.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi’s son, Unmesh Joshi was also summoned by the ED in this case.