Maratha Quota Stir: Vandals had no connection to morcha, says Maratha outfit leader on Waluj vandalism

Mumbai: Waluj, Aurangabad, is paying the price for discontinuing the practice of paying protection money to political parties and leaders. As industry grapevine has it, these companies earlier paid ‘protection money’ to politicians and their parties. But demonetisation in November 2016 put paid to this practice. Industrialists strongly believe some political parties seized the opportunity of the bandh on August 9 and reportedly sent disgruntled former temporary workers to vandalise the premises of various companies in Waluj Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).

“If they were genuinely disgruntled or upset at being sacked, they would have physically assaulted managerial staff. Instead, they extensively damaged office properties, amounting to crores of rupees. It is our strong feeling this was done deliberately, to teach us a lesson and extort protection money from us,” said an industrialist. Aurangabad Commissioner of Police Chiranjeev Prasad said this angle would be investigated.

Vindicating the stand of Sakal Maratha Morcha organisers, Prasad confirmed, “The vandals had no connection to the organisers and participants in the Maratha morcha. Their motive was destruction and that has been established with evidence.” Prasad made these comments while speaking to the media on Tuesday. Prasad clarified that police are not partisan or communal, they only pursue offenders and seek evidence. “Police are not communal, but based on the evidence, we can confidently say that those arrested accused have no connection to the Maratha agitation,” said Prasad.

In fact, police further stated that the accused were temporary workers in those companies which have been destroyed. “After examining the CCTV footage, it has been established that the accused are mostly young boys, who were temporary workers sacked from these companies and responsible for this destruction. This is the handiwork of disgruntled elements,” Prasad claimed.

Prasad added, the Kranti Chowk police station had filed First Information Reports against certain ‘unknown’ people. “The complaint has been filed against outsiders who had infiltrated the Maratha morcha on the day of the bandh,” said Prasad. Vandals had broken into the premises of many companies in MIDC, Waluj. The destruction of property took place even as the Marathas had called for a peaceful bandh on August 9. The estimated property loss due to this vandalism has been valued at over Rs 60 crore. However, from the day of this vandalism, the Maratha morcha organisers had confidently insisted that they wanted a Central Investigation Department inquiry and had distanced themselves from the vandals.

Aurangabad police have already arrested 53 persons in connection with the Waluj case. Out of the first lot of 37 people arrested, it has emerged that 18 are not Marathas. Now the CP has clarified that there is no connection between the vandals and Maratha morcha participants.

Prasad said the arrested accused have been booked under strict sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The police had shot some videos for evidence and retrieved the footage of CCTV cameras installed by many companies inside MIDC, Waluj. “Some citizens have sent us some videos that were shot independently, on the basis of which we have arrested 53 people,” said Prasad.

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