Thane: The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena on Sunday enforced a shutdown in Thane city to protest the failure to locate a woman BJP corporator missing for the past nine days, an official said.
However, in a statement to a private TV channel Sunday afternoon, the elusive BJP corporator Suhasini Lokhande assured that she was "safe and secure" and "remained" with the party.
Speaking to the channel, Lokhande said that she was away on a pilgrimage to an undisclosed destination, and declared that she would remain present in the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) mayoral elections scheduled March 6
On its part, Thane BJP leader Sandeep Lele reiterated his allegations that the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party had abducted Lokhande and "the truth will be out soon."
Lele alleged that Lokhande was under pressure from her abductors to make statements claiming she was `safe and secure.`
"However, now they are feeling scared that the opposition game could be exposed and she has been allowed to speak. We shall now move the court seeking orders to the police to immediately trace and present her before the people," Lele said.
Refuting the allegations, NCP Thane leader Najib Mulla told mediapersons that Lokhande may have disappeared owing to some internal dispute with her own party and asserted that his party was not involved in the matter.
Sunday`s shutdown, described as `near total` saw alleged political activists damaging some autorickshaws and buses that were seen on the roads early this morning.
Being a holiday, all schools, colleges, government and private institutions were shut, but shops, restaurants, and commercial establishments responded to the shutdown call by downing their shutters.
The shutdown was to protest the sudden disappearance of the newly-elected BJP Ward 48 municipal corporator Lokhande, since Feb 24.
Though police said that she had gone on a vacation with her husband and family, her brother Prakash Tambat has lodged a missing person complaint Saturday with Naupada Police Station, expressing concerns over her safety.
Incidentally, Lokhande went off radar two days after the BJP-SS-RPI alliance claimed to have achieved the `magic figure` of 66 corporators to stake control over the Thane Municiapl Corporation administration for the next five years.
The three-party alliance also confidently asserted that it had garnered support from independents and others, paving the way for installing a Shiv Sena mayor in TMC.
The Feb 16 polls threw up a hung house, with the saffron alliance bagging 62 seats and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance securing 52, with independents and other parties winning the remaining seats in the 130-member house.