Mumbai Police has granted permission to Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to hold a rally at Azad Maidan today to protest against the recent violence there that resulted in the deaths of two people.
"Permission has been granted for the rally at Azad Maidan and police machinery is in place at the venue," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Rajneesh Sheth.
However, the MNS has not been allowed to take out its 5-km long procession from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan in the afternoon, Mr Sheth said.
Mr Thackeray has declared that he will go ahead with the party procession despite the bar.
On Monday, the MNS chief had rued that barely a day before taking out the MNS procession, the party had not been granted official permission for it.
"Now it doesn't matter. Whatever happens, we will take out the procession," Mr Thackeray had declared at a media conference in the evening.
The MNS hopes to attract over one lakh people to the procession, including party activists from all over Maharashtra, Mumbaikars and families of policemen who were injured after a 25,000-strong procession by some organisations turned violent on August 11.
The procession will condemn the violence and demand the resignations of Home Minister RR Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik.
Mr Thackeray demanded to know how permission was granted for the August 11 procession at Azad Maidan, which finally erupted in violence and two deaths. 52 others, including 44 policemen and media persons, were also injured when a protest over clashes in Assam turned violent.
"The authorities had prior information that there could be trouble, but yet they permitted them to take out such a huge procession. In contrast, we will only gather at Girgaum Chowpatty and then take out a peaceful procession to Azad Maidan," Thackeray said.
He was reacting to a police notice served on the party imposing restrictions on holding the rally and warning that the MNS would be held responsible for any untoward incident.
Mr Sheth, however, said that no police notice had been served on the MNS, but that the local police may have issued some preventive notification in view of the party's programme on Tuesday.
Mr Thackeray said he had already informed his party activists to remain calm and vigilant to ensure that outside elements did not take advantage of the MNS procession.
Meanwhile, wiser after the August 11 experience, Mumbai Police have made elaborate arrangements to handle the MNS procession.
Over 12,000 policemen, supervised by three additional police commissioners, will fan out on the 5-km long procession route in south Mumbai.
Mr Sheth called upon people not to fall for rumours and promised to come down heavily on rumour-mongers and trouble-makers.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)