Police use tear gas to quell violent Maratha protests in western Maharashtra
Police vehicles attacked, buses torched, key roads blocked as Maratha outfits seek to reignite protestsUpdated: Jul 31, 2018 16:33 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
After a brief lull, various Maratha outfits once again looked to spark their agitation for reservations into life with violent protests in western Maharashtra on Monday. As protestors resorted to violence and arson at various places, police were forced to fire teargas shells in the air and impose a lathicharge in Chakan to quell the protests.
Chakan, 40 kilometres from Pune, saw the most violence with protestors attacking a police station and damaging at least 100 vehicles.
The Pune-Nashik highway near Khed was also blocked by protestors for more than four hours, this despite leaders from the Maratha outfits appealing to community members not to indulge in violence. Inspector general (Kolhapur range) Vishwas Nagre Patil, said, “Most violence occurred in Chakan and Khed-Rajgurunagar areas where around 30 vehicles were torched. The situation is now under control.” The community has been protesting across the state for 10 days now, demanding reservations in government jobs and education.
The violent protests erupted a day after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis reiterated his government’s commitment towards reservations for Marathas and also assured the delegation headed by former chief minister Narayan Rane of withdrawing cases against agitators.
However, angry protesters stormed into the Chakan police station on Monday and pelted stones at policemen, leaving four of them, including a deputy superintendent of police, injured. To disperse mob, police resorted to a lathicharge.
In the violence eight policemen sustained injuries, including a deputy superintendent of police, additional superintendent of police and police inspector, while 30 vehicles were torched.
Among them, 10 vehicles were Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) buses, according to police reports.
In Pune, IT employees faced massive traffic jams after protestors blocked the road leading to the Hinjewadi IT Park. Market Yard traders also supported the bandh call and arrival of vegetable, fruits was stopped at the agriculture market produce committee on Monday. Keeping in mind the violent outburst, some schools also decided to remain shut on Monday while a few school bus operators also chose to stay off the roads to avoid trouble. Violence initially broke out when members of Sakal Maratha Samaj held a protest march on Monday morning in the industrial town of Chakan. “Few youngsters suddenly started pelting stones despite an appeal by the police to maintain peace,” said Sandeep Pakhale, additional superintendent of police. Police also invoked Section 144 of CrPC to prohibit assembly of more than four persons in the area in Chakan.
First Published: Jul 30, 2018 17:00 IST