The violence that marred what was billed as a “peaceful” Maharashtra bandh called by the Maratha outfits under the umbrella of the Maratha Kranti Morcha on Thursday, has now turned into an ugly thorn in the side of the community movement.

On Friday, Maratha outfits apologised for the damage caused and have suspended all agitations on public roads, offering some respite to the government machinery involved in keeping the peace.

“After violence in various parts, we have decided to stop all kinds of agitations on the street. Instead, protestors will undertake a chain hunger strike at the district and taluka level,” said Shantaram Kunjir, convenor, Maratha Kranti Morcha, addressing a press conference in Pune on Friday.

The past 20 days have seen Maratha protests turn violent with major incidents of vandalism reported in Pune, Navi Mumbai, Chakan and Aurangabad.

Under fire for the violence during the protests, the Maratha outfits continue to claim that those involved in the vandalism are not associated with the Maratha protests.

During the second statewide bandh on Thursday, protestors ransacked the district collectorate in Pune and pelted stones on police personnel at Chandani chowk. In Aurangabad, vandals indulged into violence and arson, causing massive damage to over 60 industries in the Waluj industrial area.

“We are going through a very difficult situation as there have been incidents of violence by elements not part of the Maratha protests,” said Vinod Patil, another convenor of the Maratha Kranti Morcha.

Organisers of Thursday’s Maratha protest in Pune apologised for the violence at the district collectorate, saying overenthusiastic protestors went on the rampage as pleas of peace fell on deaf ears.

194 people arrested for violence and vandalism

A day after the Maratha protests turned violent in Pune, police on Friday arrested 194 people, including two juveniles, some of whom were allegedly involved in ransacking the district collectorate and pelting stones on the police.

Those arrested were earlier booked in various police stations for vandalism and unlawful assembly during the protest organised by Maratha outfits to press for reservation.

Later in the day, the suspects were produced in the court, where 50 were remanded to police custody till Sunday and eight were remanded till Saturday.

“We have arrested some miscreants. We will come to know more about them once interrogation is complete,” said Pune police commissioner K Venkatesham.

According to the Bund Garden police, five women who were also arrested by the police.

A large mob went on rampage at the district collectorate breaking the glass of the security cabin and smashing window panes and electricity lamps. At Chandani chowk, the mob went berserk after the police tried to disperse them. The police fired tear gas shells as the protestors blocked national highways.

Some protestors had also entered offices of IT companies located at Hinjewadi and Kothrud in Pune and beat up security guards. The agitators pelted stones, vandalised the premises and asked the employees to leave. Protestors also blocked roads and burnt tyres.

The Bund garden police booked offenders under IPC 143, 147, 149, 341, 353, 427. Maha Police Act 37(1)(3), 135, Destruction to Public property . Police inspector MM Mujawar of Bund Garden police station informed HT that the protestors had been booked for unlawful assembly, preventing the public servants from discharging their official duties and indulging in destruction to public property by agitators who did not listen to the pleas of the police and the leaders.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 15:19 IST

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