Maratha protests: Roads blocked, trains stopped, buses vandalized in Mumbai
Hundreds of Maratha protesters took to the streets in Mumbai today, blocking roads and stopping trains. Though organizers had assured a peaceful protest, there were reports of stone pelting from some areas like Wagle Estate and Ghansoli. Yesterday, a cop was killed in stone-pelting in Aurangabad. Demonstrators across the state attacked police and set fire to vehicles.
Today, protesters stopped trains in Thane, Ghansoli, Jogeshwari and other places. In Lalbaug, Maratha Kranti Morcha activists downed shutters of shops. Traffic was halted at Shivaji Chowk, Mulund Check Naka and Panvel. The Sion-Panvel highway and Eastern Expressway were blocked, leading to massive traffic jams. At Wagle Estate, a bus was vandalized. Demonstrators also shut down petrol pumps and stopped buses outside Thane depot.
Schools, colleges, medical services and others exempted
Trying to ensure a "peaceful" protest, demonstrators ensured school buses and ambulances were allowed to run normally. Other essential services, including the supply of vegetables, were also exempted. Additional security forces have been deployed as a precaution.
One person committed suicide, attempts by at least three others
Protests have been going on the last few days in Buldhana, Akola, Washim and Parali. Violence broke out after a youth jumped into the Godavari Monday. At his funeral in Kaygaon, demonstrators manhandled Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire. In the aftermath, internet services were snapped at several places and 70% of police units mobilized. Buses were set ablaze. Rallies were organized in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune.
Protesters plan to gherao CM's residence
Anger has been directed towards CM Devendra Fadnavis, who hasn't yet implemented quotas despite repeated assurances. Recently, he claimed protesters were "planning violence" at Pandharpur, antagonizing them further. "We'll continue our agitation until Fadnavis apologizes," Ravindra Patil, coordinator of a pro-reservation group, had said. Demonstrators are now planning to gherao 'Varsha,' Fadnavis' official residence in Mumbai. They have also demanded his resignation.
The current wave of protests broke out two years ago
Marathas have long demanded reservation in jobs and education. Other wants include preventing misuse of the Scheduled Caste and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, remunerative pricing for farmers, and social abolishment of the dowry system. In July'16, a Maratha teenager was gangraped and murdered in Kopardi, allegedly by three Dalits. Since then, protests by different groups have broken out often, sometimes turning violent.