MUMBAI: A cop died and another was injured as the Maratha quota stir turned violent on Tuesday. Two other men from the Maratha community in Aurangabad district tried committing suicide even as the administration suspended internet services in Aurangabad and a few other districts where the agitation had escalated.
There were several incidents of stone pelting and torching vehicles apart from blocking roads even as Maratha community leaders have called for a band in Mumbai and adjacent districts as they were excluded from the Maharashtra bandh observed today to mourn the death of Maratha activist Kakasaheb Shinde on Monday.
Sham Atgaonkar, a police constable from Osmanabad who was deployed on duty at Kaygaon in Aurangabad where Shinde was to be cremated, died soon after a commotion, which followed stone pelting. The cause of death is not ascertained yet, police said.
Another constable was injured in stone pelting, police said. The agitators who had blocked the Aurangabad-Ahmednagar highway on Monday remained blocked throughout Tuesday till the agitators withdrew agitation in the evening and the traffic was restored.
The situation at Aurangabad was tense since last evening when Twenty-seven-year-old Kakasaheb Shinde had jumped off a bridge over Godavari river in Aurangabad. His family members, who had earlier denied accepting his body till Chief Minister resigns, did so after the announcement of Rs 10 lakh ex gratia and assurance of government job for his younger brother by the government.
A tehsildar and a police officer were held responsible for Shinde's death and were sent on forced leave. However, during his cremation at Kaygaon the mob turned violent. They shouted slogans condemning CM Fanavis and demanding Shinde to be declared a martyr. Shinde who died during Maratha quota stir was also a Shiv Sena activist which is why local MP Chandrakant Khaire reached to attend the funeral at Kaygaon. However, he had to face the ire of the protestors.
Khaire was manhandled by the crowd and had to be secured out by the police. There was stone pelting as well on the MP's car, even as he was leaving the venue in haste. The crowd then toppled two fire brigade vehicles and even torched them.
To control the escalating situation, authorities rushed more forces and shut down internet services in Aurangabad. Even as Shinde's funeral was going on, Jagannath Sonawane (31) tried to emulate his example and jumped onto a dry river bed. He was admitted to government hospital in Aurangabad. Another activist tried to end life by consuming the poisonous substance.
He too has been admitted to a hospital, police said."Seventy per cent force of all the units have been mobilised," said additional director general of police (law and order) Bipin Bihari. Seven battalions of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) were deployed in sensitive areas besides the local police, he added. Internet services were suspended to stop the rumours on social media.
Maratha Kranti Morcha took out a rally in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune and requested shop owners to close their shop. But, Protesters from other parts of Marathwada, where the band was most effective, set on fire private and state transport buses.
Incidents of stone-pelting too were reported in Hingoli. The shutdown affected all the eight districts of Marathwada region but there was a mixed response in the rest of the state, police said. The ST administration had suspended services from Pune to Aurangabad to avoid damage of buses. Solapur and Mumbai districts were spared from band to facilitate safe return of Pandharpur pilgrims to their respective places.