Mumbai bandh over Maratha quota begins; buses attacked

Last Updated 25 July 2018, 06:45 IST

Protesters attacked buses and stopped local trains in Mumbai and the adjoining Thane city on Wednesday during the bandh called by Maratha outfits over their demand for reservation.

The police in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Satara districts were on their toes to prevent any law and order problem during the bandh.

In Aurangabad, a man, Jagannath Sonawane, who had consumed a poisonous substance on Tuesday during the protest, died today at a local government hospital.

Nine public buses were attacked by agitators in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, a transport official said.

Agitators threw stones on some buses in Mumbai, including Kanjurmarg and Bhandup areas, shattering window panes.

In view of the stone-pelting on buses, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) partially suspended its services in some areas and expects to resume it when the situation improves, an official of the transport body said.

Protesters tried to block a road in Mankhurd suburb, but the police stopped them. They tried to burn a tyre on a road in Chandivali area and block roads in Jogeshwari and Kandivali, but the police dispersed them, an official said.

In some areas such as Bandra, Matunga and Mulund, protesters marched on roads and were seen requesting shopkeepers with folded hands to close their establishments.

They also hurled stones on two public transport buses in Wagle Estate area of Thane city and burnt tyres on its arterial Ghodbunder Road, but the police removed them.

Agitators blocked some areas there, including the key Teen Hath Naka junction, resulting in huge traffic jams on the city's main entry and exit points.

A bus was attacked in Ghansoli area of Navi Mumbai following which the city transport authority suspended its services in the area, an official said.

Contrary to their previous peaceful agitations, this time protesters tried to stop local trains on the Central Railway (CR) and the Western Railway (WR) corridors.

"A few protesters stopped trains on Up fast line at Jogeshwari at 9.16 am, however, they were removed from the track and train services resumed at 9.24 am. All lines working normal on WR suburban section," the Western Railway said in a tweet.

Agitators also threw stones at trains passing through Thane and Ghansoli (located on the trans-harbour line in Navi Mumbai) stations and services were halted briefly.

"There were isolated incidents at Thane and Ghansoli after 9.59 am. The situation normalised at 10.24 am," CR's chief PRO Sunil Udasi said.

Around 70 lakh people travel in local trains daily in the Mumbai region.

In view of the bandh, a lesser number of auto-rickshaws and taxis were seen on roads.

At some places, protesters raised slogans against Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Public Works Department Minister Chandrakant Patil for allegedly insulting sentiments of the Maratha community, the official said.

The Agriculture Produce Market (APMC) at Turbhe in Navi Mumbai was also closed as a union of 'mathadi' workers (who carry loads on their head) supported the bandh.

Security has been deployed at various places to avoid any untoward incident, a Mumbai Police spokesperson said.

Some pro-reservation activists led a 'jal samadhi' protest in the Krishna river in Sangli district to press for their demands.

Commercial establishments remained shut in some areas of Ahmednagar city.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation for reservation in jobs and education, has called for the shutdown in Mumbai and some neighbouring districts.

Another outfit, the Sakal Maratha Samaj, called for the bandh in Navi Mumbai and Panvel areas.

They have exempted schools, hospitals, medical and other essential services, including vegetables and fuel supply, from the bandh.

No school buses was attacked or stopped in any area.

Ambulance services were also running normal, a senior official of the public health department said.

The pro-reservation groups also kept Solapur district out of the bandh because of the rush of devotees to Lord Vitthal temple in Pandharpur town there.

The Shiv Sena has been supporting the Maratha community's demand for reservation but decided not to participate in the protest.

Yesterday, large-scale violence marred a state-wide protest by Maratha outfits demanding reservation for the community.

A constable died and nine other policemen were injured amid suicide attempt by three agitators during the violence.

Agitators had clashed with the police and torched vehicles at several places, while Internet services were suspended in rural areas of Aurangabad district to prevent any untoward incident. In Jalna, the police had fired in the air to quell protests.

Quotas for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state's population, has been a hugely contentious issue.

Fadnavis had cancelled his visit to a temple in Pandharpur on Monday after protesters threatened to disrupt the event.

Despite assurances from the chief minister, nothing concrete has been done till now over the demands, community leaders have claimed.

"We will continue our agitation until the CM apologises to the Maratha community (for alleging that some members from the community were planning violence at Pandharpur)," Morcha coordinator Ravindra Patil said yesterday.

(Published 25 July 2018, 04:15 IST)

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