In Aurangabad, the police had to resort to firing in the air to control the mob.
Mumbai /Pune: Several parts of Maharashtra saw a complete shutdown on Thursday during the Maharashtra bandh called by Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) to press for reservations in jobs and education for the Maratha community. Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai witnessed a partial bandh as many markets remained shut. However, places like Pune, Aurangabad, Solapur, and Hingoli saw violent protests.
In Aurangabad, the police had to resort to firing in the air to control the mob. In Pune, protesters ransacked the gate of the district collector's office and there was stone pelting in Chandani Chowk. There were reports of six ST buses getting damaged, while one was torched. In a preventive measure, aimed at curbing rumour-inspired violence, internet services were stopped in parts of Marathwada and Western Maharashtra.
Over 40 agitators were detained by Pune police. They were sitting on strike in front of collector's office even after 6 pm. Over 1,000 people sitting were not ready to move and hence police did mild lathicharge.
Major violence took place in Pune city and its periphery, according to reports. Protesters who gathered at the district collector’s office were disturbed to know that the officer didn’t come out to receive their memorandum.
“I was in touch with co-ordinators of MKM, Pune. It was decided that a few of them would come to my cabin and give their memorandum. It made the other group upset. So, they did some damage to the office,” reacted Naval Kishor Ram, district collector.
The stone pelting at police also took place at Chandani Chowk in Pune.
The city witnessed total bandh as shops, businesses, schools, and colleges didn’t open on Thursday.
Agitators also forced shops and companies, including Cognizant in IT Park to shut down. Dr K Venkatesham, police commissioner, Pune City, said, “The bandh was peaceful barring two incidents. A few miscreants damaged glass lamps and windows of security at collector’s office. Otherwise Maratha morcha organisers were performing a peaceful Thiya strike.”
He added, “In other incidents, agitators pelted stones at police and did rasta roko for three hours on the Pune-Banglore Highway. We had to break gas shells to disperse the crowd. Otherwise there was peaceful strike. We had deployed 7,000 police personnel, including Ten DCPs, three SRPF coy, one RAF company, and 20 striking platoons among others.”
Agitators forced shops and offices to shut. They forced Sungard Solutions in Aundh and asked all employees to leave. However, there was no problem at IT Park in Hinjewadi though rumours were doing rounds. In other incidents, a bus was torched in Hingoli, Marathwada. Also, police had to fire in the air in Aurangabad. Protesters performed rasta roko at Nashik-Manmad, Ahmednagar-Aurangabad, Latur -Solapur, Pune-Satara, Mumbai-Goa highways.
An official from ST Corporation said that there are 250 depots in the state. Of theses, 218 depots have been shut down. 93 per cent services had not resumed due to the bandh. He also said that 16 buses were damaged. Of these, 11 buses were damaged in Aurangabad, five in Nashik and one in Nagpur.
In Mumbai and its periphery, no incidents of violence took place. MKM coordinators declared a bandh in Mumbai, but gathered only in a few places and held protests.
Petition in Bombay high court seeks end to agitation
City-based social worker Arun Bawlekar has filed a petition in the Bombay high court through his lawyer Ashish Giri, seeking action against Maratha protestors who are allegedly conducting bandhs throughout the state and damaging public property. The petitioner also sought that the state government take action against the Maratha community's protestors under Bombay Police Act and Damage to Public Property Act. The petition further seeks that the state government constitute a high-level committee or the court direct the state government to implement the guidelines framed by the Bombay high court in a 2003 G Deshmukh’s petition.