Violence, in the form of severe stone pelting, arson, coercive closure of shops and offices, including IT companies in Pune, marked the protest
Mumbai: Stone pelting, arson, coercive closure of shops and offices, and blocked highways marked the Maratha quota agitation on Thursday. The violence erupted despite the Sakal Maratha Samaj calling for a “disciplined an peaceful protest" to commemorate the second anniversary of the Maratha Kranti Morcha.
On 7 August, the Bombay High Court expressed displeasure over the protest and violence, and reminded the people that their demand for reservation in education and government jobs is being heard in the court.
The state-wide bandh called by the Sakal Maratha Samaj and other groups was most disruptive in Pune and Aurangabad, while Mumbai and neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai witnessed sit-in demonstrations, which were relatively peaceful.
Protestors turned violent after submitting a memorandum to the Pune district collector. They ransacked the government property and brought down one of the gates to the premises. Several police personnel were injured in the stone pelting and had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the protestors. The situation was brought under control by 6 pm.
Protestors also targeted vehicles, shops and IT offices. and blocked the Mumbai-Bengaluru expressway. Violent incidents were reported from Chandni Chowk, a busy stretch along the expressway, where the Mumbai-Pune corridor was blocked for more than five hours till 5.30 pm.
Protestors also blocked the Ahmednagar-Pune highway and the Pune-Nashik highway for a few hours and attempted to torch vehicles.
In Aurangabad, where the first silent Maratha march was organised two years ago, protestors resorted to disruptive means. Clashes between the police and protestors were also reported from Nashik. In western Maharashtra and Marathwada regions, which have been the hotbed of protests, cities remained on the edge, given that large-scale violence was reported in the last week of July.
Elsewhere in Maharashtra, the bandh call evoked mixed response.
The state administration, including the police, took several precautionary measures, while Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation decided to take the busses of roads. Government and private schools and colleges also remained shut.
Suburban trains and BEST buses operated smoothly in Mumbai metropolitan region.