<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Raj Thackeray-led MNS has a new weapon in its fight against illegal hawking around Railway stations, religious places, hospitals and educational institutions.MNS functionaries across Mumbai have created helplines and WhatsApp groups for citizens to complain about such illegal vendors. These complaints are then forwarded to the police and BMC for action. In case these agencies drag their feet, activists of the party take “appropriate action.”Yashwant Killedar, who heads the MNS unit in the Mahim assembly segment, said they had created a WhatsApp helpline for citizens to complain against illegal hawking in these no-go areas in the constituency. “If people see any hawking here, they can click photosand send them to the helpline. We get many complaints at the rate of around 15 to 20 per day… The purpose is to create awareness in the people,” added Killedar.The Mahim assembly seat covers Railway stations like Dadar, Mahim and Matunga.Akhil Chitre, MNS leader from Santacruz, said the party unit had started “Feriwale Hatao” (Drive hawkers away) WhatsApp groups which consisted of both, MNS office bearers and local residents who were not affiliated to any political party.”This covers an area of 150 meters around Railway stations, hospitals, and educational institutions and foot over bridges in Bandra, Santacruz and Khar,” added Chitre, stating that citizens could send photos of any illegal vending in these areas instead of taking “individual action.”The photos are then sent to the police and BMC for action. In case these agencies drag their feet, MNS leaders said their activists visited the spots to chase the encroachers away. “Each WhatsApp group sees around five to six complaints daily, mostly in the morning or evening,” said Chitre.The Bombay High Court had said hawking would be permitted only in 221 designated hawking zones and disallowed near schools, hospitals, religious places, railway stations and on foot overbridges (FOBs).After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road Railway station on September 29 which killed 23 people, Raj, who had organised a morcha on the Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate from the Metro Cinema had given the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, foot over bridges and premises. This would make stationssafer and easier to access for commuters.

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Raj Thackeray-led MNS to fight illegal hawkers around stations through Whatsapp