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Rahul snubs Sena, takes Mumbai local
Mumbai is on edge as Rahul Gandhi arrives in the city for a three-hour stop. The Shiv Sena has promised to greet Gandhi with black flags, to protest against Gandhi's comment that “Mumbai is for all Indians.” In Bihar earlier this week, Gandhi also said that it was commandos from Bihar and UP who fought for Mumbai during 26/11, and so migrant labour should not be targeted in the city.
Drastically changing the arrangements made for him in Mumbai, Rahul Gandhi hopped onto a local train at Andheri to make his way to a Ghatpokar slum.
Gandhi is on a countrywide tour on a meet-the-youth programme.
After Gandhi decided to ride two local trains, bomb detection and disposal squads, and sniffer dogs were immediately pressed into service at Andheri, Vile Parle, Dadar and Ghatkopar railway stations.
Gandhi was meant to take a helicopter from his first stop at Bhaidas Hall in Vile Parle to a dalit slum in Ghatpokar. After meeting with students at Bhaidas Hall, he made an unscheduled stop at an ATM. He then boarded a train.
At Ghatkopar, Gandhi garlanded a statue of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, and then met residents.
Analysts say Gandhi is determined to prove that he is unfazed by the Shiv Sena's threats to disrupt his trip to the city.
Mumbai's senior-most policemen are on the streets of the city to coordinate Gandhi's security arrangements.
Earlier this morning, Gandhi was met at the airport by the Maharashtra chief minister, Ashok Chavan, and taken to his first venue, Bhaidas Hall in Vila Parle.
Shortly before he arrived here, four Shiv Sainiks were taken into custody for trying to force their way into the venue.
30 Shiv Sainiks have been taken into custody at the Ghatkopar slum. Another 30 have been detained in other parts of the city.
Other Shiv Sainiks stood by with black flags, on the orders of Bal Thackeray, to protest against Gandhi's comment that "Mumbai is for all Indians." In Bihar earlier this week, Gandhi also said that it was commandos from Bihar and UP who fought for Mumbai during 26/11, and so migrant labour should not be targeted in the city.
Sena corporator, Rajul Patel, wearing a black sari, and two others were picked up while trying to make way into the Bhaidas Hall in suburban Vile Parle without proper invite, police said.
Shops in both the areas remained closed, police said, adding several trouble makers were detained last night as a preventive measure.
The Mumbai Police had on Thursday sent notices to Shiv Sena leaders across Mumbai, warning them against indulging in any illegal activity on Friday.
Rahul Gandhi is on a countrywide tour on a meet-the-youth programme. Recently speaking to students in Patna, he took the Shiv Sena head-on.
"Actually I didn't respond to Uddhav but I said this about people from Bihar. Thackerayji was saying that people from Bihar and UP should be thrown out from Maharashtra. And when 26/11 happened, then NSG commandos from UP, Bihar, Himachal, Gujarat, Maharashtra helped. So then he didn't say this at that time," Rahul Gandhi had said.