Mumbai: The differences between the agitating Maratha factions on how to carry forward the reservation stir has added to the confusion in the minds of Mumbaikars. On Wednesday evening most of them were wondering: Will there be a bandh in the city on Thursday or not?
The Maratha Kranti Morcha, the Sakal Maratha Samaj and the Maratha Mahasangh are split on the issue. At separate meetings in Mumbai and Aurangabad on Tuesday night and on Wednesday, it was decided to call for a state-wide shutdown, but no blockade of highways. Finally, it was decided, the bandh would be state-wide but exclude Navi Mumbai and Thane.
However, the bandh would be enforced in Mumbai. The Maratha Kranti Morcha further assured that it would be peaceful and essential services would not be disrupted. Likewise, in Mumbai and its suburbs, all educational institutions will remain open. However, there is uncertainty about whether local trains will operate as usual. Amol Jadhav, coordinator of the Sakal Maratha Samaj said on Wednesday, “Mumbai will observe a complete shutdown. Agitators will ensure all establishments remain closed for a day. We will follow the norms but if something is amiss and there is violence, the state government will be responsible.”
Mahesh Rane, a leader from the Maratha Kranti Morcha, said, “Marathas will not force people to shut down their services. But, if some anti-social elements try to create a law and order situation, it will be assumed they are agents of the state government which wants to defame the Kranti Morcha.” Virendra Pawar, another coordinator of the Sakal Maratha Samaj and leader of the Maratha Mahasangh, was against observing a bandh in Mumbai. Pawar has announced a sit-in at the office of the suburban collector in Bandra from 11am to 1pm. Sachin Kurve, suburban collector, confirmed that protestors will observe a sit-in at his office.
“As the agitation will be silent, there is no need for schools and colleges to be closed,” said Kurve. However, in Thane, some schools have decided to remain shut though Thane has been excluded from the bandh. Narendra Patil, Mathadi union leader, has announced Navi Mumbai will not participate in the bandh, to avert a replay of July 23 when several vehicles were set ablaze. Apart from Navi Mumbai and Thane, local Maratha outfits have decided against shutdowns in Akola, Hingoli and Parbhani districts.
However, traffic movement is likely to be impacted in the state’s rural hinterland despite the Morcha urging protestors to refrain from putting roadblocks along highways and roads. Educational establishments and shops in several districts are likely to be closed owing to fears of possible vandalism. Violence has marked the shutdowns in Solapur, Chakan and Auranagabad in the preceding fortnight. Meanwhile, Morcha coordinators who met in Aurangabad on Wednesday to deliberate on the nature of the shutdown, appealed to protesters to refrain from blocking highways; Nor should they indulge in wanton destruction of public and private property.