Mumbai: Protesters attacked public buses in Mumbai, and the neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai as the bandh called by Maratha outfits over their demand for reservation began this morning. Two BEST buses were attacked by agitators in Kanjurmarg and Bhandup suburbs of Mumbai.
In view of the stone-pelting on buses, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) partially suspended its services in those areas and expects to resume it when the situation improves, an official of the transport body said. Protesters also hurled stones at a public transport bus in Wagle Estate area of the neighbouring Thane city. They blocked some areas there, including the key Teen Hath Naka junction, resulting in long queues of vehicles on the road leading to Mumbai. A bus was also attacked in Ghansoli area of Navi Mumbai following which the city transport authority suspended its services in the area, an official said.
Agitators gathered at various locations in the Mumbai region and the neighbouring Raigad and Palghar districts. At some places, protesters raised slogans against Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Public Works Department Minister Chandrakant Patil for allegedly insulting sentiments of the Maratha community. The suburban railway services on the western, central, harbour and trans-harbour lines were not affected, officials said. Around 70 lakh people travel in local trains daily in the Mumbai region.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation for reservation in jobs and education, has called for the shutdown in Mumbai and some neighbouring districts today. Another outfit, the Sakal Maratha Samaj, called for the bandh in Navi Mumbai and Panvel areas. Yesterday, large-scale violence marred a state-wide protest by Maratha outfits demanding reservation for the community. A constable died and nine other policemen were injured amid suicide attempt by three agitators during the violence.
Agitators had clashed with the police and torched vehicles at several places, while Internet services were suspended in rural areas of Aurangabad district to prevent any untoward incident. In Jalna, the police had fired in the air to quell protests. Quotas for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state’s population, has been a hugely contentious issue. Fadnavis had cancelled his visit to a temple in Pandharpur on Monday after protesters threatened to disrupt the event.
Despite assurances from Fadnavis, nothing concrete has been done till now over the demands, community leaders have claimed. “We will continue our agitation until the CM apologises to the Maratha community (for alleging that some members from the community were planning violence at Pandharpur),” Morcha coordinator Ravindra Patil said yesterday.