Mumbai: The organisers of Sakal Maratha Kranti Morcha had, on Wednesday, made clear their plans for a peaceful bandh for the city of Mumbai on Thursday. The circular of dos and dont’s and the issuance of ‘a sit-in dharna’ call was a strong indicator of things to come. But traumatised by the incidents of violence that marked the previous morcha of July 23, many schools and colleges voluntarily remained shut.
However, the district collectors of both Mumbai city and suburbs had made it clear they had not issued any orders for declaring Thursday a holiday. It was peaceful in Mumbai as well as in neighbouring Navi Mumbai and Thane. But there were reports of violence in Aurangabad, Nashik and Pune. In Pune, agitators vandalised the office of the district collector and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway remained shut for almost six hours.
In Mumbai, the Maratha community have a limited presence restricted to only Chembur, Kurla and Ghatkopar. The main action was at Ghatkopar, where several shops were closed to avoid any untoward situation. Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) road which has highest traffic movement witnessed lesser number of vehicles especially during the peak hours of morning. Maruti More, a resident of Ghatkopar, said he reached his office in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in a jiffy, which is not the case on normal days. “Due to the bandh, officegoers seemed to have decided stay at home or work from home. As we were asked to come in to work, I left early in the morning, but the roads were empty,” More said.
There were reports of violence in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) area of Walunj, in Aurangabad district. Mobs also torched a couple of private vehicles and a police van, compelling security personnel to resort to lathi-charge and lob tear-gas shells in the air. Ambadas Danve, district president of Shiv Sena was beaten by the agitators in Kranti Chowk in Aurangabad city. According to sources, agitators were shouting slogans against Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Danve was requesting them not to utter Thackeray’s name.
In Latur district, agitators pelted stones on the car of Congress legislator Trimbak Bhise. Bhise, who attempted to join the agitation, was instead heckled, jeered at and shoved about till he was compelled to beat a hasty retreat. Despite repeated appeals to agitators to refrain from targeting public property, there were incidents of stone pelting on State Transport buses in Nashik. According to authorities, the windows of some private vehicles were smashed despite a call for a ‘sit-in’. The people at Dongre Vasti Gruh Maidan suddenly turned violent, with an irate mob heckling former legislator Manikrao Kokate when he attempted to join the agitation. There also were reports of a mob torching a mini-school bus in Hingoli district, while some agitators, along with their livestock, staged roadblocks in some areas in Parbhani district. Irate agitators set up barricades of burnt tyres along Madha-Shetphal road in rural Solapur.
Schools and colleges remained shut in Pune and Ahmednagar districts, Marathwada region including Aurangabad, Jalna, Nanded and Beed.