MUMBAI: Even after assurance by its leaders that the Maharashtra bandh on Thursday would be peaceful, the Maratha agitation turned violent once again.
Vehicles were burnt, police was attacked and government offices vandalised in many cities even as the shutdown was successful in most of the state except Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
Barring a few instances of burning of tyres to block highways and pelting stones at state transport buses in Solapur and Aurangabad, the agitation was largely peaceful till afternoon. The protestors took out marches, held demonstrations at the houses of people’s representatives, blocked highways and gave a charter of demands to district collectors.
After 1 pm, however, the agitation turned violent. It all began from Pune district collector’s office, where protestors were divided over whether they should go and hand over the charter of demands to the collector or he should come forward to accept it. Even as some protestors were debating it, a group went to the collector’s office and handed over the charter to him. This enraged the other group which vandalised security guard’s cabin and the lampshades at the gate.
On the outskirts of Pune, protestors attacked policemen when prevented from blocking the highway. Police had to resort to lathi-charge and use tear gas to disperse them.
In Nashik, too, two groups of protestors clashed and police had to intervene to stop the situation from escalating. Protestors roughed up political leaders, pelted stones at shops and vandalised vehicles. A police vehicle was torched in Aurangabad.
Buses were damaged at Nashik, Aurangabad, Latur and Vashim. Regular services on Pune-Nashik, Pune-Aurangabad, Nashik-Aurangabad roads were suspended after stones were pelted at the buses. The state transport corporation suffered a loss of Rs 22 crore, transport minister Diwakar Raote said in Mumbai.
In Nagpur, a group of protestors tried to jump in front of a train. But a timely intervention by police averted a tragedy. In Jalgaon, a woman poured kerosene over herself in front of the district collectorate. In Baramti, the protestors staged demonstrations in front of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Internet services remained suspended throughout the day in Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar as well as all in the Marathwada region.