Maharashtra is in the grip of a fresh wave of violence barely four days after Maratha groups call off the statewide agitation demanding 16% reservation in government-run educational institutions and jobs.
Maharashtra is in the grip of a fresh wave of violence barely four days after Maratha groups call off the statewide agitation demanding 16% reservation in government-run educational institutions and jobs. Several districts of the state were on the boil on Monday, while another youth committed suicide in Aurangabad to press the government for the quota demand. Violent protests were reported from Pune and neighbouring Osmanabad, Solapur, Kolhapur and Aurangabad. At least 100 vehicles were set ablaze and many were vandalised in Chakan and Khed areas of Pune. Protestors also blocked the movement of traffic on the Pune-Nashik highway for seven hours. As a precautionary measure, Section 144 has been imposed in several areas.
Demonstrators said that they will go on a ‘jail bharo andolan’ from August 1 to press for their demand of reservation. The Maratha Kranti Morcha issued a release stating that Marathas have decided to protest against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for not fulfilling his promise to withdraw cases against protesters.
A dead body of a man was found near the Mukundwadi railway station in Aurangabad district. According to police, Pramod Hore Patil committed suicide by jumping in front of a train after writing a Facebook post to press for the reservation demand.
The protest by Marathas intensified after a 28-year-old man Kakasaheb Dattatreya Shine committed suicide by jumping into Godavari river in Gangapur tehsil of Aurangabad on July 23. Since then, the Aurangabad district has become the epicentre of the protest.
According to police, they had received information of a large gathering in Chakan, Rajgurunagar and Khed areas of the Pune-Nashik highway. Police said that at around 11:45 am, some local leaders addressed the crowd and the protesters blocked the highway. “The protest turned violent around 12.30 pm. A mob of over 1,000 people, chanting slogans walked towards Talegaon Chowk carrying sticks and fuel bottles. They started setting vehicles ablaze. They torched at least 20 vehicles, most either State Transport or Civic transport buses,” said a senior police officer.
“We were anticipating some disturbance. But after the vandalism and arson started, a larger force was called in,” the official added.
Police said that demonstrators also pelted stones on private vehicles. At least 40 vehicles including few state roadways buses were vandalised. A police official said that to control the mob, they had to resort to lathi-charge and later fire tear gas shells. “When the mob continued the rampage, the police had to open fire.”
Police said that they have collected photographs and videos of the violence. An official said that a probe will be ordered to know how a mob suddenly reached the highway. “All this damage will be recorded. Video footage of the mobs and gatherings will be examined and accordingly, cases will be registered,” the official said.
“A probe will also be conducted into how suddenly a mob was mobilised and who were the people who resorted to arson and to which groups they belong,” the officer added.
Marathas who constitute 33% of the state’s total population, have been demanding 16% reservation in the educational institutions and jobs. The state has already enforced 52% reservation which includes Scheduled Castes (13%), STs (7%) and OBCs (19%). The denotified nomadic tribes and special backward category together enjoy 13% reservation.