Maratha groups seeking reservation in jobs and education called off a day-long bandh midway Wednesday following violence by those who had taken to the streets in different parts of Maharashtra. Buses and local trains were stoned in several parts of the state, including Mumbai and Thane, during the bandh. A Superintendent of Police and a Deputy Commissioner of Police were among several police personnel injured in stone-pelting. The Mumbai-Pune and Mumbai-Goa highways were blocked for hours by protesters.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha blocked the Sion-Panvel highway near Kalamboli and brought traffic to a halt on both sides. A clash broke out between police and the protesters and it led to stone-pelting. The police then lathi charged the crowd, firing tear gas shells and at least one round in the air to scatter the mob, a police officer said.
While the bandh was called off around 2 pm in Mumbai, it continued in parts of Navi Mumbai and Thane until 5.30 pm.
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Dashrath Patil, a member of the Maratha Kranti Morcha in Kamothe, said, “We had planned a peaceful protest and police were also informed about it. The stones were pelted by protesters who were away from the highway. Some of the faces in the protest were seen for the first time and we think they had vested interests.”
In Navi Mumbai, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, a senior police inspector and three constables were injured in clashes. At least one protester was injured in Kalamboli and another 15 detained by Navi Mumbai police. In another incident, a mob tried to torch a police chowky in Koparkhairane and set three police vehicles ablaze, police officers said.
Thane Commissioner of Police Parambir Singh said: “Thane police have arrested 20 anti-social elements. Few other suspects have been identified and we are tracing them. Non-bailable offences will be registered against those who tried to incite the protesters.”
In Satara, protesters went on a rampage and attacked police vehicles. Movement of vehicles via Satara was stopped for some time as a preventive measure.
Violence was also reported in Ahmednagar district. Protesters set a forest department jeep on fire in Karjat taluka of Ahmednagar.
In Shirdi, a youth identified as Krushna Abasaheb Gambhire, a 24-year-old from Kalamb in Osmanabad, attempted suicide by consuming poison. He was rushed to hospital where his condition was said to be stable.
In Beed district, Maratha Kranti Morcha activists stoned the office and residence of BJP’s Gevrai MLA Lakshman Pawar.