PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Mumbai: Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM), one of the organisations spearheading the agitation for reservation for the Marathas, on Friday said its members were not responsible for the violence in Aurangabad and Pune on Thursday.

While protesters ransacked offices of several companies at Waluj industrial area  near Aurangabad, Pune district collector’s office was also vandalised. MKM convener Shantaram Kunjil today said in Pune that the organisation will pay the cost of shattered glass panes and light bulbs at the Pune collector’s office. The Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA) today raised the issue of violence and losses suffered by factory owners at Waluj.

MKM convener from Aurangabad, Vinod Patil, said local people who depend on the industry for livelihood could not indulge in such acts. “Outside anti-social elements” who sneaked into the agitation were responsible for the vandalism, he claimed. The rioters were not even from the Maratha community, he said. Kunjil, on the other hand, blamed the rioting on factory owners not paying workers their wages on time. However, another MKM leader told reporters in Pune that henceforth the agitation will be “by peaceful means”, through relay sit-in hunger strikes at government offices.

Kunjil announced that on August 15, all Maratha families in the state will not “light kitchen fire” (will not cook food) by way of penance. Both Patil and Kunjil demanded that the government withdraw the cases lodged against protesters who had not indulged in violence. Violence was provoked by some outside elements to defame the MKM which had taken out peaceful protest marches at 58 places across the state to press the quota demand in the past, Kunjil alleged. He also claimed so far 31 people from the community had committed suicide to press the quota demand.

Earlier, CMIA office bearer Prasad Kokil alleged that protesters beat up security guards at Waluj MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) area, and vandalised offices and industrial units of 60 big and 20 small companies. He said he could not understand why the units were targeted, and asked how would investment come to the area if such incidents happen, and should the industry shift to some other place. Some delegates of foreign companies were present at MIDC when the violence broke out, which could send out bad message, he said. At a meeting today, CMIA also resolved not to give jobs to those people who had indulged in rioting.

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