Minister’s helicopter greeted with stones

The agitation for Maratha reservation turned violent on Thursday when members of the Sambhaji Brigade and Jijau Brigade pelted stones on the helicopter of Finance Minister Dilip Walse-Patil...

Written by Express News Service | Pune | Published:February 20, 2009 1:30 am

Agitation for quota ahead of CM arrival

The agitation for Maratha reservation turned violent on Thursday when members of the Sambhaji Brigade and Jijau Brigade pelted stones on the helicopter of Finance Minister Dilip Walse-Patil,minutes before the arrival of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan at the Shivneri Fort for a Shivjayanti function.

The Pune rural police lathicharged the agitators. About 10 policemen,including superintendent of police (rural) Ravindra Kadam,additional SP Ashok Morale and deputy SP Ravindra Rasal sustained injuries. Some of the agitators too were injured.

Like every year,the Chief Minister and other VIPs were about to arrive at Shivneri,the birthplace of Shivaji Maharaj,for the traditional function around 9 am when about 500 agitators started raising slogans. They threatened they would not allow the chief minister to attend the function if he did not pass an order granting reservation for the Maratha community.

The police had anticipated trouble and deployed a large contingent at Shivneri since last night. The police caned the crowd and soon some of the agitators started hurling stones at the helicopter that circled in the air for about 10 minutes before landing. Some activists tried to target Walse-Patil,who remained inside the helicopter till the police whisked him away. The helicopter was not damaged. By the time the Chief Minister’s helicopter arrived,the situation was under control.

Purushottam Khedekar,president of the Maratha Seva Sangh,appealed to the activists to maintain peace. Thereafter,the function was carried out peacefully as Chavan pledged to hold an all-party meeting within eight days for a final decision on reservation. Maratha leaders in favour of reservation had already held a meeting with Chavan on Wednesday evening,following which an all-party meeting was planned.

District Collector Chandrakant Dalvi said,“The agitators went unruly. But the police managed to bring them under control before the arrival of the Chief Minister.”

District Superintendent Kadam told reporters later that action would be taken against the agitators involved in the stone-pelting.

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