Mumbai/Pune/Aurangabad: A number of public and private vehicles were torched, a railway station was attacked, highways were blocked and public life was disrupted in many parts of Maharashtra on Thursday following violent protests by Marathas.
People from the Maratha community are demanding 16% reservation in government jobs and education. Following their protest in the last month, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sought time till November to fulfill their demands and asked the community to withdraw protest. However, Maratha organisations went ahead with the bandh call on Thursday and despite their appeals to maintain peace, protesters openly indulged in violent acts.
In Aurangabad, two groups of protesters clashed when someone allegedly shouted slogans against Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at Kranti Chowk. Sena district chief Ambadas Danve objected to the slogans, following which members of both the sides engaged in a scuffle, according to Indian Express.
“One person was injured in the incident but we brought the situation under control. We separated the two groups and dispersed their members,” a police official said. A group of activists went to the Aurangabad office of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and indulged in stone-pelting at several companies. Police responded by firing in the air.
In Pune, protesters vandalised the district collector’s office and resorted to stone pelting, damaging some light bulbs in the premises. A batch of protesters held a sit-in outside the residence of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in Baramati tehsil of Pune and was joined by his nephew Ajit Pawar in support of their demands.
The police had to resort to lathicharge and bursting of teargas shells to disperse more than 1,000 stone pelting protesters who had blocked the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass near Chandani chowk for more than four hours since 11:00 am.
The Madha-Shetfal road, which connects to National Highway number 9 (Pune-Hyderabad) in Solapur district, was also blocked by the protesters, leading to massive snarls. Some agitators burnt tyres on roads in Jalna and Ahmednagar districts, a police official said.
Bengaluru-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express train was stopped at Lonavala station from 12.33 pm to 12.45 pm. Around 200 activists conducted rail roko agitation at Lonavala station.
In Nanded, scores of passengers were at the receiving end of Maratha agitation as the railway administration was forced to cancel three passenger trains and short-terminated four other, amidst incidents of rail blockade and stone pelting, according to The Times of India.
Organisations called off the bandh in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai in the last minute but went ahead with their scheduled protest in front of government offices. While Maratha Kranti Morcha held a sit-in protest outside the office of the Mumbai Suburban Collector in Bandra (East), the Sakal Maratha Samaj carried out the bandh in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. Token protests were also held in Navi Mumbai and Thane.
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