A day-long bandh called by pro-Maratha groups across Maharashtra saw sporadic incidents of violence from across Maharashtra on Thursday morning, with most shops and commercial establishments, private schools and colleges shut across the state. No incidents were reported in Mumbai.
However, dramatic visuals on CNN-News18 showed protesters entering offices of IT companies in Pune's Hinjewadi area waving saffron flags, pelting stones and asked the employees to leave. Earlier, protesters had vandalised property at the Pune district collectorate.
State-run buses did not ply in Pune and other places as a precautionary measure. In the Maratha protests between 18-27 July, both public and private property worth more than Rs 4.5 crore was damaged, with vehicles vandalised and buses set afire. News18 reported incidents of stone pelting from Somwar Peth in Pune and Solapur on Thursday. Protesters also blocked roads in Budhgaon in Sangli, while in Mumbai, shops remained closed in Ghatkopar.
Maharashtra braced for the day-long shutdown on Thursday called by an umbrella organisation of pro-quota Maratha groups, with the authorities ordering closure of schools and colleges in some areas fearing violence. However, Navi Mumbai was exempt from the agitation.
The bandh was organised despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' assurances that his government was working on providing reservation to the Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions, one that is legally sustainable. Fadnavis had sought time till November to take steps with regard to the quota.
On the eve of the bandh, senior minister Chandrakant Patil said on Wednesday that "nothing can be done" about their demand till 15 November.
Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 percent of the state's population, have been demanding 16 percent reservation. The community members had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominent among them being that of reservation.
Internet suspended in Pune district
Internet was suspended in Maharashtra's Pune district on Thursday to prevent rumour-mongering in view of the Maratha quota agitation, police said. Superintendent of Police (SP) Sandip Patil told PTI the Internet services were temporarily suspended in Baramati, Shirur, Khed, Junnar, Maval, Bhor and Daund rural tehsils of the district.
The step was taken to prevent any untoward incident after violent protests were witnessed during the Maratha community's protest for reservation in July, he said.
Fearing violence during the bandh, Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram issued an order on Wednesday that schools and colleges will remain shut on Thursday. Chakan, an industrial hub located in Khed tehsil, had witnessed large-scale violence during the Maratha quota agitation on 30 July, when around 70 buses were torched and damaged in the area.
In view of Thursday's bandh, a majority of the commercial units in the Chakan industrial area also decided to remain closed on Thursday.
"There are over 1,000 companies in the Chakan MIDC area and majority of them have decided keep their plants and firms shut," Chakan police station's senior inspector Santosh Girigosavi said.
Over 7,000 police personnel were deployed in Pune city, along with some companies of the State Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force, to maintain law and order, Pune Commissioner of Police Venkatesham K said.
Road traffic distrupted across Maharashtra
Maratha agitators disrupted road traffic in some parts of Maharashtra on Thursday as part of their statewide protests over the reservation demand. Protesters halted buses and other vehicles on roads in Latur, Jalna, Solapur and Buldhana districts, officials said.
In Satara, no state transport buses ran on Thursday and all vehicles remained parked at the central bus stand. All petrol pumps and vegetable markets were also closed in Satara.
A pro-quota group in Latur blocked roads from midnight and disrupted vehicular movement. There were similar protests in Nashik, Buldhana and Solapur districts where agitators blocked roads in some areas on Thursday morning, police officials said. The state-run public transport services have been partially suspended in Osmanabad and Buldhana districts to avoid any damage as protesters had targeted buses in the previous round of agitation last month.
Sit-in protests in Bandra, Baramati
Maratha Kranti Morcha agitators sat outside the Mumbai Suburban Collector's office in Bandra (East) on Thursday morning. Nanasaheb Kute, convener of the Morcha in Mumbai had earlier said, “We have decided to hold a sit-in protest outside the office of the Mumbai Suburban Collector in Bandra (East). It will be a peaceful protest from 11 am to 2 pm with protesters wearing black badges. Then, we will hand over a letter containing our demands to the collector and leave."
The agitators also held a sit-in protest outside the residence of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in Baramati on Thursday.
Schools, APMC markets shut in Navi Mumbai
Though Navi Mumbai was excluded from the bandh, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in the densely populated township decided to remain shut. Even as Maratha groups have excluded essential services from the bandh purview, the supply of vegetables was affected in some parts of the state, including Mumbai, APMC officials said.
A vegetable seller in Mumbai's Dadar area said the bandh was not forced on them, but they had voluntarily shut down business for the day in support of the cause.
Schools in Navi Mumbai were also shut for morning and afternoon sessions, reported The Indian Express. The education department of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation declared a holiday. However, no such announcements were made in Mumbai and its suburbs.
Suburban rail services run smoothly in Mumbai
Western Railway services functioned normally in Mumbai, despite the day-long pro-Maratha shutdown across Maharashtra.
— Western Railway (@WesternRly) August 9, 2018
According to The Indian Express, 500 Railway Protection Force and 200 Government Railway Police officials were posted on Thursday on the Central Railway line. They, as per the report, were posted at Igatpuri, Kalyan, Kasara, Thane, Ghansoli, Kurla and Ghatkopar stations.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 09, 2018 19:09:53 IST