40 Buses Torched, Stones Pelted in Pune as Maratha Quota Fire Burns Again
The protesters behind vandalism are suspected to be from the Maratha Kranti Morcha, the same group that led the multi-day Maharashtra-wide agitation over reservation for Marathas last week.
Police personnel clash with the Maratha Kranti Morcha protesters during their district bandh called for reservations in jobs and education, in Solapur, Maharashtra on Monday. (PTI Photo)
Fresh violence with arson, roadblocks, attacks on police and shutdowns rocked several parts of Maharashtra over the demands for Maratha reservations while one person committed suicide by jumping under a running train here on Monday.
Large areas of Chakan in Pune and its surroundings, Osmanabad, Solapur, Kolhapur, Nandurbar and Aurangabad witnessed sporadic incidents of arson, violence, road blocks and noisy processions on foot and on motorcyles.
In Chakhan, protesters torched 40 buses and damaged around 50 more on the Pune-Nashik highway, forcing commuters to take shelter in office buildings in the vicinity. Police had to lob teargas shells and fire in the air to control the mob, officials said. At least five policemen were injured in the violence.
ST buses were also targeted in Solapur's Pandharpur pilgrim centre and adjourning Kolhapur since midnight on Sunday-Monday, forcing a precautionary suspension of all ST services for the day as roads were blocked by squatting activists and burning tyres.
Activists attempted to set afire some vehicles and ST buses in Nandurbar but were thwarted by police though some parts observed a shutdown.
Prohibitory orders were also clamped in many police station areas for several hours, but were lifted in the evening after the situation calmed a little.
In Aurangabad, Pramod Hore Patil committed suicide by jumping in front of a running train after posting his intention on Facebook.
He ended his life sometime on Sunday, but his body was recovered on Monday near Mukundwadi railway station, resulting in a shutdown in parts of the district. This is the third quota-related suicide in the violence-hit state in the past one week.
The main opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party convened urgent separate meetings of all their legislators to discuss the crises arising out of the continuing violence.
Later, delegations from both parties independently met Governor CV Rao and Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) officials on the issue.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, of the Congress, told media persons that the MSBCC would take around three months to complete its ongoing survey on the economic backwardness of the Maratha community.
Leader of Opposition in the Council Dhananjay Munde, of the NCP, said the party has also written to Governor seeking his urgent intervention to resolve the quota crisis.
The Shiv Sena is likely to back the Bharatiya Janata Party on this specific issue and has urged the government to announce the quotas without waiting for the MSBCC report, or disturbing the existing reservations.
"Do anything but declare the Marathas quota immediately... Convene the special legislature session urgently, submit a proposal for constitutional amendments to the centre and resolve the crisis as the state continues to suffer," Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray told media persons.
Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar has flayed the undue delays on the part of the government in announcing the quotas and demanded they do so without further delays. Many Congress legislators have offered to resign en masse on the emotive issue but will await the final decision of the party high command, party sources said this evening.
So far, at least eight legislators from various parties including Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP have quit or offered to quit their posts for Maratha reservations.
Maratha Kranti Morcha convenor Vinod Patil demanded that the government must announce a time-bound programme to implement Maratha quotas by Tuesday (July 31), failing which the stir would be intensified from August 1.
Similarly, the Dhangars community has also demanded their share of quotas by September 1 or warned the authorities of an agitation.
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