Maharashtra bandh has begun today from 8am and will continue till 6pm. The state is braced up for a day-long shutdown today called by an umbrella organisation of pro-quota Maratha groups, with the authorities ordering closure of schools and colleges in some areas fearing violence. The ‘bandh’ is being organised despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ assurances that his government was working on providing reservation to the Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions, one that is legally sustainable. Mr Fadnavis had sought time till November to take steps with regard to the Maratha quota demands.
The state police has said it will make maximum deployment of its personnel as also the central forces requisitioned so as to maintain the law and order during the Maratha reservation protests.
Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state’s population, have been demanding 16 per cent reservation.
Here are the Live Updates of the Maharashtra Bandh:
In Latur, Sholapur, Kolhapur, Palghar and several other places, activists blocked road traffic while Pune, Ahmednagar, Washim, Dhule, Buldhana, Nanded, Akola, Parbhani, Jalna, Hingoli, Aurangabad woke up to a total shutdown. Between July 18 and 27, there were incidents of stone pelting at over 250 places and 198 incidents of arson. Property, including both public and private, worth more than Rs 4.5 crore was damaged in those 10 days, a police official said.
Mr Jadhavrao also alleged that Fadnavis was talking to only a handful of Marathas and trying to create confusion within the community.
“Fadnavis should give a time-bound programme for giving quota to the community on his letterhead and we will withdraw our agitation,” he said.
Sakal Maratha Samaj leader Jadhavrao said, “We are also making an appeal to the Maratha youths to stay away from violence. We will not indulge in any aggressive protest and there will be no damage to public properties.”
We have given a call for a peaceful agitation. We have no intention to cause a contempt of court. The coordinators of Maratha morcha from Navi Mumbai can participate in the agitation in Mumbai,” Mr Jadhavrao said yesterday.
In view of the bandh, a majority of the commercial units in the Chakan industrial area have also decided to remain closed today. As a precaution, Maharashtra state buses are not plying in Pune.
“It will be a state-wide bandh, excluding Navi Mumbai. All the essential services, schools and colleges have been excluded from the bandh,” Amol Jadhavrao, a leader of Sakal Maratha Samaj told reporters.
“Due to some sensitive issues, we have decided not to observe bandh in Navi Mumbai,” he said.
According to the police, between July 18 and 27, 276 cases of violence were registered across the state during the quota agitation.
A number of places, especially Koparkhairane and Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai, had witnessed violence during the Maratha quota stir late last month. Around 20 policemen, including eight officers, were injured in stone-pelting by protesters at Kopar Khairane and Kalamboli. A protester, injured in the violence in Navi Mumbai, had died.
Senior state minister Chandrakant Patil said yesterday that “nothing can be done” on their demand till November 15. Maharashtra Police has stepped up security so as to maintain law and order.
Shiv Sena MLA from Kolhapur, Prakash Abitkar, claimed last night that he had sought permission of the state Assembly Speaker to hold an agitation in the Vidhan Bhawan premises in Mumbai today to extend support to the Maratha community’s demand for reservation.
However, it was not clear whether he was granted the permission.
The pro-reservation agitators have decided to take out a bike rally in Pune district today. A pro-quota group in Latur blocked roads from midnight and disrupted the vehicular movement.
In Satara, no state transport buses were running today and all vehicles were parked at the central bus stand. All petrol pumps and vegetable markets were also closed in Satara.
The Maratha community members had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominent among them being that of reservation.