Protesters damage 23 buses; cops round up 670,including two BJP MLAshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/protesters-damage-23-buses-cops-round-up-670-including-two-bjp-mlas/

Protesters damage 23 buses; cops round up 670,including two BJP MLAs

Twenty-three buses were damaged and one person suffered minor injuries in the bandh called by political parties on Thursday.

Twenty-three buses were damaged and one person suffered minor injuries in the bandh called by political parties on Thursday. The parties were protesting against the recent petrol price hike. Police detained around 670 people,two of whom are BJP MLAs while others are workers of political parties and organisations.

Police said there were 13 cases of stone pelting,in which 18 buses of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) and five of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) were damaged.

Deputy commissioner of police (special branch) Makrand Ranade said,“Barring minor incidents,the bandh was peaceful. We detained 429 people under Section 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code (arrest to prevent man from committing cognizable offenses) on Wednesday night and Thursday. Another 243 were detained under Sections 68 and 69 of the Bombay Police Act. Among those detained are workers for the BJP,Shiv Sena,Communist Party of India and organisations like Patit Pavan Sanghatana. Two BJP MLAs — Girish Bapat and Devendra Phadanvis — were also among the those detained.” He further said that the estimated losses are to the tune Rs 98,000.

“A man,identified as Santosh Kharat,was injured by glass shards form a PMPML bus at which protesters were pelting stones. This incident happened near Deep Bangala chowk around 10.30 pm on Wednesday. We have witnesses in some cases but no arrest has been made yet,” Ranade said.

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A senior police officer said,“Incidents of stone pelting on buses had started on Wednesday night itself.”

For security,the police deployed about 80 per cent of the total personnel available. “Four battalions of State Reserved Police Force (SRPF) and six Quick Response Teams were deployed,” Ranade said.

On Wednesday,notices were served to 500 political party workers,warning them against participating in the bandh. Ranade said,“Though shops and hotels were closed,government offices and private establishments were open. Traffic was smooth throughout the day.”

PMPML spokesperson Deepak Pardeshi said,“As the police bandobast was good,the situation was under control. There was a 45 per cent drop in the number of commuters on buses. The places where stones were pelted on PMPML buses include PMC bus stand,Tilak Road,Deccan,Kothrud,Ramoshi Gate,Kondhwa,Gokhale Nagar,Bhandarkar Road,Fergusson College Road and Swargate.”

Close Watch on Key political figures

DCP Makrand Ranade said,“During the bandh,we kept a close watch on the movements of key figures from political parties that participated in the bandh. Cops in plainclothes watched their movement throughout the day.”

Many stay in but at work,it’s business as usual

Barring a few incidents in which public transport buses were damaged,the bandh in the city was peaceful as many citizens stayed home. The agitation was called by various political parties,including National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners.

Though political party workers had been pelting stones at buses since Wednesday night,some PMPML buses were plying as usual on Thursday morning. However,as most people stayed home to avoid getting into trouble,the buses were relatively empty. Autorickshaw unions had decided not to participate in the bandh,but most of the autos stayed off the roads in the morning. By afternoon,however,many autos returned. As a precautionary measure,traders and shop owners across the city stayed closed and opened their businesses only later in the day.

Meanwhile,BJP leader Devendra Phadnavis,MLA Girish Bapat and city party unit chief Vikas Mathkari staged protests along with their Sena and RPI (A) counterparts at various places.

Tight police security across the city ensured that there was no major untoward incident. Senior police officers were on their toes,patrolling through the city.

Government offices were running as usual and recorded normal staff attendance. Similarly,banks,hospitals,courts and educational institutes were not affected by bandh. Litigants and respondents from far off places,however,chose to skip hearings on Thursday.

The PMC had beefed up security at important establishments and civic buildings.

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There was little impact of the bandh on the industry. IT firms in Hinjewadi area worked normally. President of Hinjewadi Industries Association,Mritunjay Kumar Singh,said attendance in offices at Hinjewadi industrial area was not affected. A majority of manufacturing industries in the city,however,remained closed as Thursday is a holiday for them. Director General of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA),Anant Sardeshmukh,said only some manufacturing units that are open on Thursday and are closed on Saturday and Sunday were working.