Pics by Rons Bantwal
Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai
Mumbai, June 8 (IANS): Suspected Shiv Sena activists Monday evening attacked the Reliance Energy head office here, pelted stones at the police and torched at least four vehicles to protest against the power company's move to hike electricity prices, a police official said.
The protests started in the afternoon when a mob of over 500 Sena activists, including scores of women, led by their leader Anil Parab, descended on the Reliance office and started hurling stones at the building, located adjacent to the busy Western Express Highway (WEH) in the Santa Cruz suburb.
The Sena activists even thrashed the building's security personnel when they attempted to stop them.
They also targeted at least four vehicles, including a truck, and set them afire, an official from Vakola police station said.
The violence occurred despite a delegation of Sena leaders being closeted with Reliance officials to hammer out the price hike issue.
Police were rushed to the spot and the mob turned its ire on them, pelting stones and injuring at least three policemen, the official said.
Policemen baton charged the mob and burst at least a dozen tear gas shells to disperse the agitators.
Chaos prevailed on the highway, all major roads leading to it and the east-west connecting roads in the evening peak hours due to the Sena protests.
Hundreds of vehicles bound for the north were stuck for several hours, even as police attempted to bring the situation under control.
Several office-goers driving back home had to take alternative routes to reach their respective in the Mumbai suburbs.
"Usually, I travel from Mulund to Borivli by the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. Today, we were advised by the police to go via Thane's Ghodbunder Road," said R. T. Marketwala, a pharma company general manager.
Similar was the fate with thousands of commuters bound from south Mumbai business centres to their homes in the western and northern suburbs.
Many like Ameet Mohite took diversions on the crowded and signals-dotted S.V. Road and managed to reach after several hours' delay.
Late in the evening, Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said the party was protesting silently against the Reliance price hike. However, when the police caned a woman activist the crowds reacted, she said.