<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Activists of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) attacked and chased away hawkers from outside suburban Railway stations on Saturday after the Railway administration did not heed their party chief’s “ultimatum” to evict them. MNS leaders warned that in case authorities were not stirred into action, this protest would continue with the party visiting other stations on Sunday to check whether the hawkers have been evicted. If not, MNS has threatened to take the necessary “action” against them.After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road Railway station on September 29, which killed 23 people, Thackeray organised a morcha to the Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate from the Metro Cinema and gave the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, foot-over-bridges and railway premises. This would make stations safer and easier to access for commuters.Thackeray, whose party is at an ebb after successive electoral defeats and desertions from the rank-and-file, had threatened that in case this deadline, which ended on Friday, was not adhered to by the authorities, his party workers would do the needful.On Saturday, slogan-shouting MNS workers threatened hawkers outside Thane, Kalyan, Vasai Road and Nalasopara Railway stations, manhandled some vendors and broke stalls.”We had given them a memorandum 15 days ago,” said former MNS legislator from Mahim, Nitin Sardesai.”Since they did not listen to this, we had no option. If the (Railway) administration had performed their duty well, we would not have been forced to act.” Avinash Jadhav, the MNS city unit chief in Thane, who evicted hawkers at Thane West, said these protests had made vendors disappear from many railway stations on the Mumbai suburban network.”A case of rioting and vandalism has been registered against the accused in three different police stations in Thane city and we have identified the accused, who would be arrested soon,” said Sukhada Narkar, Thane police spokesperson. Sources said the arrests are likely to take place till late on Saturday night.In 2008, Raj had begun his anti-migrant, anti-outsider campaign by targeting hawkers from northern states and his party workers had also assaulted students from other states visiting Mumbai for a Railway recruitment examination. Raj alleged that the influx of outsiders deprived local Maharashtrian youth of employment opportunities and that the Railway recruitment process was biased in favour of candidates from north India.However, MNS leaders said they were demanding action against hawkers regardless of whether they were Maharashtrians or non-Maharashtrians.Meanwhile, Union minister of state for social justice and Republican Party of India (RPI-A) leader Ramdas Athavale criticised the MNS violence and warned of retaliation by his cadre in case “poor hawkers were attacked.”

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MNS tears down stalls at Thane, Vasai