[Maratha protesters at Akashwani Chowk in Aurangabad (Photo: Courtesy Divya Marathi)]
Mumbai/Nashik/Aurangabad: Activists of Maratha Kranti Morcha joined by a large number of people from the community on Tuesday staged protest and 'chakka-jam' in all major cities of Maharashtra to press for their demand to provide reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
Protests, held today from 11:00 am to 01:00 pm at different junctions of Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Malegaon, Aurangabad, Sholapur, Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Ahmednagar, Dhule, Sindhudurg and other cities of the state, caused traffic jams.
There are also reports of violence from some places of Nashik, Aurangabad and Sindhudurg.
Overall the protests were held peacefully. Heavy police bandobast were deployed in all places to maintain law and order. At some places, protests were held without police permission.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha activists had earlier organised protest marches attended by millions of people in various parts of the state. Their protest discontinued on November 8 after Prime Minister Modi announced currency ban and focus of the entire country was shifted to demonetisation.
Today's state-wide protest was called ahead of civic elections in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and other major civic bodies.
"Today’s protest is only a trailer. We will give a call for 'Mumbai Bandh' on March 6 if our demands are not met", the organisers said in Mumbai.
In Mumbai peaceful protests were held at major traffic junctions including Dahisar Toll Naka, Shivaji Maharaj Putala in Anushakti Nagar, Kurla Sainath Chowk, Chitra Cinema Dadar/ Dadar TT, Managatram Petrol Pump in Bhandup, Shreyas Cinema in Ghatkopar and Priyadarshini in Kurla.
“Most members of our community sustain their livelihood through farming. But, with the condition of farming here, how is a Maratha family expected to lead a normal life?”, Laxman Patil, member of Maratha Kranti Morcha, who was present at the Dahisar protest, is quoted by the media as saying.
“The community needs reservations so that our unemployed youth stay away from crime", he added.
The police are yet to decide on the action to be taken against the protesters, who held traffic to ransom. When contacted, Vilas Sanap, senior PI of Kashimira police station, said, “A decision will be taken collectively on what action should be taken against the protesters.”
In Malegaon, a large number of protesters gathered at Chalisgaon Phata abd blocked traffic on Mumbai Agra National Highway. They were led by Maratha Kranti Morcha local chief Nitin Patil.
In Aurangabad, police resorted to baton charge after the protesters clashed with them at Oasis Chowk. There are also reports of stone pelting at Harsal Tea Point. Protesters also damaged SUV bear High Court Chowk.
In Sindhudurg, protesters came on all major roads and disrupted regular traffic. Burnt tyres and trees were seen spread across all major roads. According to reports, roads were blocked at more than 20 places in Sindhudurg.
Dhananje Munde, Opposition Leader in Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad, extended his support to Maratha Kranti Morcha and joined the protesters in Parli.
In Nagpur, protest was held for 15 minutes. The protesters later dispersed even as heavy police bandobast was deployed in the city.