Mumbai, Aug 21 (IANS) Raj Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena begin their protest march in the city.
The city police had Monday night grudgingly permitted MNS to hold a rally but barred the party from taking out a five-km procession from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan, as Mumbaikars braced for disruption of normal life.
A defiant MNS chief Raj Thackeray declared Monday that whatever happened, the party would take out the protest procession, compelling the police to move into top gear.
Two people were killed and over 40 injured Aug 11 after a protest by several Muslim organisations to condemn the alleged attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and the Assam riots turned violent.
Wiser by the incident, strong security arrangements were put in place since early morning across Mumbai, including two highways slicing the city, all major roads leading to south Mumbai, major railway stations and other locations en route.
Road blocks at strategic locations, random checks of vehicles and traffic diversions are already in force in most parts of the city in an attempt to prevent any untoward incident.
The MNS rally would demand the resignation of state Home Minister R.R. Patil and Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik for their alleged failure during the Aug 11 rally by various Muslim organisations.
Though MNS leaders have claimed that over one lakh people will participate in the procession, police expect around 40,000-50,000 people to march from Girgaum Chowpatty to Marine Drive flyover and proceed to Azad Maidan via Metro Cinema junction.
Joint Police Commissioner (Law & Order) Rajneesh Sheth declined to disclose the actual police presence for the MNS procession, but official sources said around 12,000 policemen supervised by three additional police commissioners would be deployed.
(With agency inputs)