Maratha Quota stir: Protesters vandalise property at Pune collectorate

PTI
Thursday, 9 August 2018

As the strike began, around 4,000 to 5,000 agitators gathered outside the collectorate this morning

Pune: Protesters today vandalised property at the Pune district collectorate during the 'Maharashtra bandh' called by Maratha groups over their reservation demand. 

Authorities had taken all precautions to prevent any untoward incident and suspended Internet services in seven tehsils of the district to check rumour-mongering. 

As the strike began, around 4,000 to 5,000 agitators gathered outside the collectorate this morning. 

The agitation had started on a peaceful note as the community members were holding a sit-in, Collector Naval Kishor Ram said. 

"After some time, as decided, some representatives of the 'morcha' came to my office and submitted their memorandum...they were happy with the administration and looked positive," he said. 

However, as the group went out of the building, some members turned violent. 

"According to my information, the main gate of the administrative building and the security cabin's glass were damaged," the collector said. 

According to sources, the protesters also damaged some light bulbs in the premises. 

Some of the agitators scaled a wall at the collector's office and shouted slogans in support of their demands. 

The protesters apparently wanted the collector to come out of his office and accept the memorandum and since he did not do so, they resorted to vandalism, the sources said. 

Ram said for the last two days he was coordinating with conveners of the Maratha Kranti Morcha and also held a meeting with them, adding "everybody looked positive". 

Following the incident, heavy police security was deployed around the collectorate. 

Shantaram Kunjir, one of the conveners of Maratha Kranti Morcha here, said it was decided to hold the sit-in for two to three hours outside the collector's office and then give the memorandum to the officer in his cabin. 

"As per the plan, we went to the collector's cabin and handed over the memorandum. The gathering was then informed that the memorandum was handed over to the collector," he said. 

It was decided to observe a minute silence for those who have sacrificed their lives in support of the reservation demand and recite the national anthem before ending the agitation, Kunjir said. 

"However, some agitators aged between 15 and 25 years, became violent and resorted to vandalism and damaged window panes of the security cabin," he said. 

"The morcha leaders tried to pacify the angry agitators and asked them not to resort to violence. The police also maintained restraint and tried hard to pacify the agitators," he added. 

Earlier, Internet services were temporarily suspended in Baramati, Shirur, Khed, Junnar, Maval, Bhor and Daund rural tehsils of the district to prevent rumour-mongering in view of the Maratha quota agitation, Superintendent of Police Sandip Patil said. 

Chakan, an industrial hub located in Khed tehsil, had witnessed large-scale violence during the Maratha quota agitation on July 30, when around 70 buses were torched and damaged in the area. 

Over 7,000 police personnel were deployed in the city today 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. 

The Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella body of Maratha groups, had called for a bandh today across Maharashtra, except Navi Mumbai, over the community's demand for reservation in government jobs and education.   
 

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