AT LEAST 11 buses run by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and the Pune Municipal Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) were damaged during protests held in the city and the ouskirts on Tuesday, officials said. The protests were held in the aftermath of the clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups that broke out on Monday in villages around Bhima Koregaon during celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregoan.
Traffic on Pune-Mumbai expressway was severely affected due to the three-hour ‘rasta roko aandolan’ by members of Dalit groups. Officials said as many as 8 to 9 buses were halted at Pimpri for over 4 to 6 hours. Srinivas Joshi, controller, Pune Division (MSRTC), said windows and windshields of three buses — Pune-Baramati (damaged at Bhekrai Nagar, Solapur Road), Daund-Tuljapur (damaged at Daund) and a stationery bus at Baramati Station — were damaged due to stonepelting.
On Monday, three other buses — Pune-Nagpur Shiv Shahi Volvo, Aurangabad-Pune and Alibuag-Aurangabad — were damaged by protesters, officials added. “A total of 139 buses have been damaged across the state,” an official with the MSRTC said. Officials with the PMPML said windshields of eight of their buses were damaged by protesters in different areas within the city and outskirts. Subhash Gaikwad, public relations officer, PMPML, said, “Our depot managers have reported damage to buses at Awhalwadi, Ganganagar, Nehrunagar, Manjari, Sadhu Vaswani Chowk and Pune Railway Station.”
Both the transport bodies said services on none of the routes have been stalled but they were co-ordinating with the city and rural police to avoid sending buses to disturbed areas.