Pune: As the Maratha stir continued its aggressive tone for the second day, there were multiple instances of violence, stone pelting and sit-in protests all over the State on Wednesday. A protester who attempted suicide by drinking poison as a part of the protest, died on Wednesday.
The Maratha community, one of the largest caste groups in the State, has been demanding reservation under the OBC category, rattled by a failing economic status and falling agricultural incomes. The community has organised more than 50 ‘mukh’ (silent) rallies since last year and is seeing a fresh spate of more aggressive protests in reaction to the announcement of a ‘mega recruitment’ drive by the State government to fill up 72,000 vacancies, even as Maratha reservations remain yet to be ratified.
The rural parts of the State, even after appeals from multiple Maratha leaders and organisations to maintain peace and non-violent protests, saw instances of violence, damage to public property and sit-in protests.
Buses going from Pune to Marathwada, Solapur, Nashik etc, were affected as MSRTC cancelled many of its services to these areas. The transport body reportedly lost revenue worth Rs 15 crore due to the agitation.
In Nashik, an ATM kiosk centre was vandalised and more than 60 pc shops and businesses were forced to close down. In Nanded, tyres were burnt and a youth attempted suicide but was rescued and treated on time. In Parbhani, there was a total shutdown of transport services and some protesters shaved their head before the taluka office in Manvat taluka.
Trees were cut and thrown on the roads in Hingoli and an effigy of the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was burnt in Latur. Protesters from Sangli partially immersed themselves in Krishna river during the protest.
In Beed, protesters closed the markets and the weekly bazaar and raised slogans in front of the residence of MLA Laxman Pawar. Around 9 buses were damaged in the Gevrai taluka and a sit-in protest at Parli entered its eighth day and was visited by opposition leader Dhananjay Mundhe, MLA Absul Sattar, Congress leader Bhai Jagtap and others in support. Over 30 policemen were injured in stone pelting in Satara and Ahmednagar saw a complete shutdown, while in Solapur, protesters held back till Monday to ensure the safe return of the Warkaris from Pandharpur.
A protester Jagan Sonawane, who had consumed poison on Tuesday, passed away in the early hours of Wednesday.
Police deployment in the city, Maratha leader urges calm
To maintain law and order and avoid untoward incidents, the district collector’s office was locked to prevent entry of people. Police Inspector M Mujavar of Bund Garden police station said that heavy police security was deployed at the office to avoid untoward incidents.” Apart from Maratha morcha in the State, there are few more protesters at the collectorate and hence, we are not allowing people inside the collector office,” added Mujavar. About 40 police officials were deployed at collector office building and few more at the council hall building in camp.
Also, Pravin Gaikwad, of the Sambhaji Brigade and Sakal Maratha Morcha, urged protesters to be non-violent and carry out protests calmly.
“The CM is responsible for the agitations and he must resign and apologise for the remarks made by him to malign the Maratha community,” Gaikwad said. “The community needs direction right now and Sambhajiraje of Kolhapur and Udayanraje of Satara, descendants of Shivaji, should take the lead to calm the protesters and bring the situation under control,” he added.