A day-long bandh in Mumbai by Maratha groups demanding reservation was called off midday on Wednesday amidst incidents of violence in the city.
Protesters attacked buses, indulged in arson and threw stones at local trains in several parts of Maharashtra during the bandh. The Mumbai-Pune and Mumbai-Goa highways were blocked for hours by the protesters.
Three policemen, including a Superintendent of Police, were injured in stone throwing. Several protesters were arrested for indulging in violence, the police said.
However, Virendra Pawar of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, saw a conspiracy in the violence. “We smell a political conspiracy as none of our activists was part of these incidents of vandalism. All the places where we announced protests were peaceful. Violence took place in areas where protests were not announced and by people who are not part of any of our organisations,” he said at a press conference in Dadar.
“The Maratha community faced insult and injustice for the last two years. We have organised silent marches. We are the people who protect others. But this government has forced stones and sticks into our hands. We are left with no option but to protest,” he said. The speakers criticised the government for its “insulting remarks” against the community. While the bandh in Mumbai was called off, the Morcha leaders said they would appeal to the organisers of bandh at Thane and Navi Mumbai to call off the bandh in their area.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asked the protesters to come forward for talks. He said his government was committed to providing reservation but the issue was pending before the Bombay High Court.
(With PTI inputs)
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