Kolhapur anti-toll agitation turns violent
At least two toll posts were burned down and five others vandalised as the ongoing week-long anti-toll agitation took a violent turn here Sunday, officials said.
Huge crowds from Kolhapur and surrounding areas trooped down to the nine toll posts, on the outskirts of the city, protesting the resumption of toll collection despite official assurance that it would be stopped from Saturday night.
"While the toll posts shut down for a few hours following the announcement made in Mumbai, late Saturday night they resumed toll collection," an activist told reporters.
"The people in and around Kolhapur are totally opposed to toll, so they took to the streets today (Sunday)," the activist added.
According to information available, the state government Saturday decided to stop collecting the toll from the public and instead recover the amount from the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation and hand it over to the company managing the posts.
The company - Ideal Road Builder - resumed toll collection late Saturday night on the grounds that they were not issued a formal letter to the effect, the activist said.
Kolhapur Anti-Toll Committee leader N.D. Patil, at the forefront of the campaign against road toll, urged the state government to immediately clarify its stand on the issue.
While a couple of toll posts were completely burnt down by the agitators, in other places the protestors destroyed computers, CCTVs, generators and cabins of posts.
The Kolhapur Shiv Sena unit has given a call for a shutdown Monday to protest the toll collection.
KATC, leading the agitation, has secured unprecedented public support with thousands joining the protests and relay hunger strike.
The Kolhapur Municipal Corporation is reluctant to bear the toll burden, sources said.
(Posted on 12-01-2014)