Maratha quota protests: Karnataka state-run bus set ablaze in Maharashtra, services suspended

Stones were thrown at several NWKRTC buses in Jath taluk of Maharashtra on Tuesday, and immediately after, bus services between both the states were suspended.  
KSRTC bus torhed in Maharashtra
KSRTC bus torhed in Maharashtra

KALABURAGI: After a state-run bus from Karnataka was set on fire in Maharashtra on Monday evening, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (KKRTC) and North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) suspended all their bus services to the neighbouring state from Tuesday.

Miscreants had stopped a KKRTC bus, going from Bhalki of Bidar district to Pune, near Taruri village of Omerga taluk in Osmanabad district, and set it on fire after forcing the passengers to get down.

The KKRTC staff contacted their Maharashtra counterparts and made arrangements to send the passengers to their destinations safely.

Stones were thrown at several NWKRTC buses in Jath taluk of Maharashtra on Tuesday, and immediately after, bus services between both states were suspended.  

Over the last few days, protesters have torched 19 buses, mostly belonging to the Maharashtra Transport Corporation, sources said.

The protesters, belonging to the Maratha community, have been protesting in different parts of Maharashtra, demanding reservation in education and employment.

KKRTC Divisional Commercial Manager Santoshkumar said the operation of around 300 buses to Maharashtra from Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Vijayanagar, Ballari and Vijayapura districts have been suspended.

“They will resume services once the situation normalizes in Maharashtra. The neighbouring state too has stopped plying their buses to the Kalyana-Karnataka region from Monday night,” he said.

The Maharashtra government provided police escort to 23 buses returning from Tuljapur to Bidar and Kalaburagi on Tuesday.

NM Keri, NWKRTC Depot Manager of Athani and Kagwad, said sensing the situation, bus services to and from Maharashtra were suspended.

Officials said there is no restriction on private vehicles. “All private vehicles entering Karnataka are being checked to ensure that no leaders from Maharashtra, who can create problems over the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute, are able to enter the state.”

With inputs from Bengaluru, Belagavi and Vijayapura

Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said it is wrong to set a Karnataka bus on fire. “We are committed to protecting the interests of Kannadigas. Our government will take appropriate action to protect the people of Karnataka and Kannadigas residing in Maharashtra.” He said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has already held a discussion with Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara and top police officers. Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said many buses from Maharashtra also come to the state. “Our state has no connection with the protest happening there and it is the internal matter of Maharashtra. The Maharashtra government should condemn this act.” He demanded that the Maharashtra government take stern action against those who have damaged Karnataka buses.

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The New Indian Express