MUMBAI: Maratha Kranti Morcha coordination committee called off the Mumbai Bandh on Wednesday afternoon when the stir turned violent at several places in Navi Mumbai and Thane with police vehicles being vandalized and torched and police had to resort to tear gas shells and firing in air apart from caning.
"The stir was successful. We thank people of Mumbai and the police for supporting the peaceful stir," said Maratha Kranti Morcha coordination committee leader Virendra Pawar as he announced withdrawal of the stir at a press conference in Dadar. While replying to questions, he also said that the organizers suspect that the stir is being exploited by politicians and hence they are withdrawing the stir. "We are appealing agitators from Thane as well as Navi Mumbai to end the stir," Pawar added.
However, despite appeal by the leaders the stir continued in Thane as well as Navi Mumbai. The police had to resort to all measures to disperse mobs at both the places. While they were successful I doing so in Thane the mobs that blocked the Mumbai-Pune Expressway at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai continued with the stir. They sat on the road blocking the national highway and said they were firm on sit up agitation.
Maratha Kranti Morcha and the Sakal Maratha Samaj the umbrella organizations of Maratha community had given a call for shut down in Mumbai and adjoining districts of Thane, Palghar and Raigad, while districts like Akola and Satara where the bandh had not been observed yesterday too joined in the protests today.
Though the umbrella organizations had appealed for peaceful protests, they remained peaceful only for a brief time in the morning. Protestors had gathered at several places and appealed people to observe bandh. They also resorted to rasta roko and rail roko at several places. But, since they lacked numbers the traffic normalized once the police whisked them away.
However, after around 1 pm the protests took a violent turn. At Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai, which is the entry point of Mumbai, protestors blocked Mumbai-Pune expressway. Police used teargas shells after caning and then had to resort to firing in air to disrupt the mob. However, the protesters outnumbered police force several times and resorted to sit up. The protestors had earlied vandalized a couple of police vehicles here.
At Nitin company junction in Thane, the other entry point of Mumbai, protestors vandalized police vehicles and pelted stones at police injuring some of the constables after which the police had to resort to firing in air. The mob there was dispersed soon and police said that the situation was under control. The protestors also torched a BEST bus at Mankhurd in Mumbai.
In Satara too, protestors vandalized police vehicles and beat them up. Here they also hooted away politicians including MLA Shivendra Raje one of the direct decedents of Maratha icon Chhatrapati Shivaji. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had, in a statement issued here last night, had blamed the revenue minister Chandrakant Patil and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for taking the stir lightly and enraging the protestors.
The protestors have been demanding immediate implementation of the quota for Maratha community, while the government said that though it has already given a quota, the High Court has put a stay on it and referred it to state backward class commission, who is likely to take a few more months to submit its report.