Schools and colleges remained shut today in parts of the state due to the protests
Mumbai: Maratha protesters demanding reservation in jobs and education, resorted to violence in pockets of Maharashtra today enforce a day-long bandh. Mumbai They blocked roads in Latur, Jalna, Solapur and Buldhana districts and vandalised property at the Pune district collectorate. Cellphone internet service has been suspended in seven blocks of the Pune district as precautionary measure. State capital Mumbai, however, was peaceful. The strike was held despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' assurances that his government was working on providing reservation. The Chief Minister had sought time till November.
The Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella body of Maratha groups, called for the strike across Maharashtra, except Navi Mumbai, which had witnessed large-scale violence last month during protests by the community.
Schools and colleges remained shut today in parts of the state. The state-run public transport services were partially suspended in Osmanabad and Buldhana districts as precautionary measures.
In Pune's Khorud, bicycles were set ablaze by protesters. In Latur, a group of protesters blocked roads from midnight and disrupted the vehicular movement.
At the Pune district collectorate, around 4,000 to 5,000 agitators gathered in the morning. The agitation had started on a peaceful note with a sit-in, collector Naval Kishor Ram was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. But after some time, some protesters turned violent and damaged the main gate and glass of the security guard's cabin.
In Pune city, the authorities made extensive security arrangements. Over 7,000 policemen were deployed along with some companies of the State Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force, said city police chief Venkatesham K.
A politically influential community in the state, the Marathas have been demanding 16 per cent reservation. Yesterday, senior state minister Chandrakant Patil said "nothing can be done" on the demand for reservation till November 15.
Earlier, the community's silent, orderly marches had made headlines, but last month, violence broke out after a couple of protesters committed suicide.
On July 25, Maratha protesters bent on implementing a statewide strike, clashed with the police in various pockets of the state, including Navi Mumbai. Arterial roads, including the Mumbai-Pune expressway, were blocked and three protesters committed suicide.
This month, the Maratha Kranti Morcha, which had called last month's Mumbai strike, organized a week-long "Jail Bharo Andolan" (fill the jails protest).
Police say between July 18 and July 27, 276 cases of violence were registered across the state during the quota agitation. Property, including both public and private, worth more than Rs. 4.5 crore was damaged within those 10 days.