Maratha quota stir turns violent, two attempt suicide; Internet suspended in Aurangabad
A day after Kakasaheb Shinde, a 28-year old Maratha youth committed suicide by jumping into Godavari river as part of the protest, the agitation for the Maratha reservation took violent turn in Aurangabad in Marathwada (central Maharashtra) on Tuesday in which a police constable died and another sustained injuries.
Several vehicles including those of the police, fire brigade and TV channel vans were torched in Aurangabad, while in some parts of Marathwada the protesters pelted stones to damage the state transport buses.
Maratha community outfits have announced a shutdown in Mumbai, Thane and adjoining areas on Wednesday after a mixed response to its statewide bandh on Tuesday. The community has been protesting for their various demands including reservation in government jobs and education, review of the SC/ST Act, construction of Shivaji statue on Arabian sea and freeships to students for professional courses.
In Aurangabad, the protesters turned violent during the funeral of Shinde. The mob set state transport buses on fire and also heckled local Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire and Congress MLA Subhash Jhambad, who had come to attend the funeral.
According to police, constable Shyam Padgaonkar, 47, a police constable, died while manning the situation and another constable sustained injuries in reported stone pelting.
At Aurangabad’s Kranti chowk, hundreds of protestors gathered who blocked vehicular movement. Schools and colleges remained shut in Aurangabad while shopkeepers preferred to down the shutters. The rural areas remained tense where agitators burnt vehicles and tyres and blocked roads.
Two protesters, Jayesh Sonavne, 30, and Jagannath Sonavne, 55, tried to attempt suicide by jumping into the Vel Ganga river and consuming poison respectively. Both were rescued to safety and hospitalised. Jayant has sustained fractured injuries on his leg in the incident.
The shutdown affected all the eight districts of Marathwada region. State transport buses were kept off the roads in the region. Chiranjeev Prasad, Aurangabad police commissioner, has appealed for peace. “The city area has remained under control barring a few incidents,” he added.
As a precaution, the police authorities have suspended internet services in city. “Seventy percent force of all the units have been mobilised [in the wake of the Maharashtra bandh call given by the protestors for Wednesday,”additional director general of police (law and order) Bipin Bihari told the Hindustan Times.
In Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai shops, schools and colleges were open and there were no disruptions in public transport. Sakal Maratha Samaj, the umbrella body representing various community organisations has given a call for bandh on Thursday in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts.
The Maharashtra government in 2014 granted 16% reservation for the Maratha community which was later struck down by Bombay high court, which asked the government to submit documents to prove backwardness of the Maratha community. The community outfits have announced to intensify their protest until demands are met. The outfits also demanded resignation of chief minister accusing him of failure to meet their demands and blamed him for Shinde’s death.
Meanwhile, the funeral on the body of Shinde was performed at Kaygaon only after government assured the community the compensation of ₹10 lakh to the family of Shinde, government job to his brother and recommendation of for the status of ‘martyr’.