PUNE: Vehicular movement on the was affected for nearly six hours after the protestors blocked both its corridors on Thursday morning at Urse toll post, about 40 km from here.
About 1,500 agitators gathered at the toll post for a sit-in at 10.30am and till 4.30pm. They did not allow vehicles movement in either direction.
The safety patrol and the Pune rural police officials rushed to the spot, but the protestors refused to move. Additional superintendent of police Tejaswi Satpute said vehicles heading towards Mumbai were diverted to the old Pune-Mumbai highway from Kewale village. Similarly, the vehicles coming in to Pune from Mumbai were diverted to the old highway at .
Satpute added that very few vehicles were travelling towards Mumbai from Pune due to the . “We had warned the local residents against protesting on the expressway. However, they gathered and blocked entire expressway,” she said.
Local politicians and revenue officials also reached the spot and spoke to the locals. The police too initiated a dialogue as the protestors were unarmed. The local villagers left the toll booth by 11.30am. “About 700 persons stayed back. We requested them to go, but they refused. On enquiry, it was found that these 700 persons were not locals,” Satpute said.
“There were a few vehicles – trucks and cars – waiting near the toll booth. We decided to continue with the dialogue to prevent stone-pelting or any kind violence at the spot,” Satpute said.
At 3.30pm, a woman alighted from a waiting car and started chiding the protestors. She was going to Mumbai from Pune for some urgent work. When she criticised the agitators, they started arguing with her. Police utilized this opportunity and ordered the waiting motorists to start moving. This upset the protestors and they turned to the police personnel expecting some action. The cops, however, threatened to file criminal cases. The protestors then left the spot and normalcy returned to the expressway at around 4.30 pm.
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