Mumbai: Taken aback by the violent protests sparked in Aurangabad and Pune by the Maratha agitation, the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) conveners announced in the future, there wouldn’t be any agitation on the streets by the community. Only peaceful means of agitation by cadres will be undertaken; supporters will stage relay sit-in hunger strikes at district and taluka government offices on August 15, announced MKM convener Shantaram Kunjil. As penance, no Maratha homes will fire up their stoves to cook food.
Appearing on the backfoot after protesters ransacked 80 big and small companies at Waluj MIDC near Aurangabad, torched vehicles, and ransacked the Pune district collector’s office, MKM conveners washed their hands of the incidents and instead, blamed it on “outside anti-social elements”. Alarmed by the vandalism and arson, the Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA) asked the state government if they should continue investing in the region or move their industries elsewhere.
The organisers of the Sakal Maratha Morcha (SMM) also sought an inquiry by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) into the vandalism at the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Aurangabad on August 9, the day of bandh. Police must not associate this violence with the SMM, the organisers said.
Speaking in Pune, Kunjil announced the morcha would pay for the cost of the shattered glass panes and light bulbs at the Pune district collector’s office. Speaking to a private news channel, MKM convener from Aurangabad Vinod Patil argued people depend on the industries for their livelihood and cannot hope to indulge in such acts of vandalism.
Patil blamed the acts of violence on “outside anti-social elements” who sneaked into the agitation. He further said, not all such incidents could be attributed to the MKM. He contended the rioters were not from the Maratha community. He demanded the culprits be identified from CCTV footage and action be taken against them. “The footage shows the perpetrators had covered their faces with cloth and they did not belong to our morcha. In the last two years, no Maratha protester has indulged in any violence, why would they vandalise this time?”
Kunjil, however, claimed that the rioting had occurred because industrialists had not paid the workers their wages on time. A farmer, Dwarkanath Patil, has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), demanding the cost of damages caused to public and private properties be recovered from the rioters. He further demanded such morchas be banned and penal action be taken against the rioters.
The petitioner has argued as per Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court, no one can call for a bandh and bandh called by any political party, organisation or any individual is illegal. The PIL has been filed with a view to implement the guidelines issued by the high court in the case of B G Deshmukh vs State of Maharashtra and others.