Pune: In all, 187 state transport buses were damaged across Maharashtra after riots broke following arson during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in Pune.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) suspended bus service in some part of the state. In Pune, six buses were damaged in two days, officials of the state transport body said.
According to state transport officials, 28 ST buses were damaged in Ahmedngar, 25 in Aurangabad, 21 in Jalgaon, 17 in Parbhani, 11 in Solapur, 10 in Dhule and Buldhana. No buses were damaged in Palghar, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Nagpur, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Wardha and Amravati.
Traffic was affected severely on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway due to three hour rasta-roko by protesters. Officials said 8 to 9 buses were halted at Pimpri for over 4 to 6 hours.
Srinivas Joshi, Controller, Pune Division (MSRTC) said three buses, namely Pune-Baramati (damaged at Bhekrai Nagar, Solapur Road), Daund-Tuljapur (damaged at Daund) and a stationary bus at Baramati Station bore the brunt of stone pelters.
On Monday, three other buses, namely Pune-Nagpur Shiv Shahi Volvo, Aurandabad-Pune and Alibuag-Aurngabad were damaged by protesters, officials said.
Officials with PMPML - city transport body serving Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad - said windshields of eight of their buses were damaged by protesters in different areas in the city and on the outskirts.
“Our depot managers have reported damage to buses at Avhalwadi, Ganganagar, Nehrunagar, Manjari, Sadhu Vaswani Chowk and Pune Railway Station,” said Subhash Gaikwad, PRO, PMPML.
Both the transport bodies said that their services have not been stalled but they are closely co-ordinating with the city and rural police to avoid sending buses to disturbed areas.
Railway passengers at the Pune station faced a panic situation for 5 minutes. Witnesses at the station said protesters damaged two PMPML buses near the Sassoon Hospital. “They moved towards the Pune railway station. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) blocked the subway gate,” said a witness.
“We did not block the gate, just deployed RPF and GRP personnel to guard. We wanted to ensure protestors did not enter the premises, as there were thousands of passengers at the railway station” said a senior official of RPF.
There was chaos as passengers scrambled to reach the platform with their luggage during the protest. “There was panic situation at the Pune railway station. Suddenly, many passengers arrived at the platforms. We moved toward the foot overbridge,” a lady passenger with two kids told Sakal Times, who was at the station to catch Jhelum express on Tuesday.
Many people missed their trains as roads were blocked during the protest. Many passengers boarded running trains. Around 10-12 passengers missed the Pune-Indore express, which was scheduled to depart at 3.15 pm. Ramesh Kothari and his family had booked their tickets on this train. They got stuck on Pimpri road. “We were 12 family members and wanted travel to Indore for a marriage. We missed the train as we got stuck on road. We had luggage, so we couldn’t board the train at Chinchwad station. We thought we would reached on time but we missed it,” Kothari told Sakal Times.