Members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) attacked several paani puri vendors across Mumbai and Thane on Thursday evening, a day after a Thane resident reportedly captured in her ‘hidden’ camera a local vendor urinating into a jug kept on his handcart and showed the footage to MNS chief Raj Thackeray.
Reigniting their agitation against north Indians, the MNS men attacked bhelpuri and paani puri vendors, who are mostly migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, across Fort, Colaba, Malad, Kandivli and Thane. While police patrolling was stepped up in these areas, no formal complaint was registered until late Thursday evening.
At Bora Bazaar Street in Fort, MNS group vandalised some of the most popular stalls. Dharamraj Yadav (30), was serving bhelpuri to his regular clientele when he saw a group of 20 men walking “violently” towards the stall. “I have been serving food at this stall for over a decade. This stall was started by my grandfather. We have goodwill here. These men walked straight towards my stall, pushed my clients, and started throwing my utensils and food on the ground. One of them, who looked like a leader, yelled loudly asking who is the owner of the stall. Some of my clients pushed me away to safety. They then walked ahead to attack other stalls,” he said.
Other stall owners along the street were attacked in a similar fashion. “They kept talking about some incident where a bhelwallah did something wrong. Why are we being attacked for one man’s action? Each one of us invests around Rs 4,000 to buy raw material everyday.” asked Snehal Dwivedi (28).
MNS district head for South Mumbai Arvind Gawde said they were forcing bhelpuri vendors to shut shop for selling unhygienic food. “These illegal stalls are selling bad food, the pictures were repulsive. Since the BMC did not take action, we decided to force them to shut shop,” said Gawde.