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Maharashtra bandh: Protesters disrupt road traffic in state, schools shut

By Deepika

Mumbai, Aug 9: Maratha agitators disrupted road traffic in some parts of Maharashtra today as part of their statewide protests over reservation demand, while Internet services were suspended in seven rural tehsils of Pune district to prevent rumour-mongering.

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Despite an appeal from Maratha community leaders to observe a peaceful bandh, protesters blocked roads and burnt tyres in some places, a police official said.

Two groups of protesters clashed when someone allegedly shouted slogans against Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at Kranti Chowk in Aurangabad district, a police official said.

According to him, a group led by Sena district chief Ambadas Danve objected to the slogans, following which members of both the sides beat up each other.

"One person was injured in the incident but we brought the situation under control. We separated the two groups and dispersed their members," the police official said.

Agitators attacked the gate and a cabin at the Pune district collector's office and damaged some light bulbs in the premises, a police official said.

The ongoing agitation in front of the District Collector's office in Pune took a violent turn as some of the protesters went on rampage at the office premises around 2 pm. Some window glasses of the building were broken and few protesters tried to climb up the compound wall.

State-run buses did not ply in Pune and other places as a precautionary measure. In the Maratha protests between 18-27 July, both public and private property worth more than Rs 4.5 crore was damaged, with vehicles vandalised and buses set afire.

News18 reported incidents of stone pelting from Somwar Peth in Pune and Solapur on Thursday. Protesters also blocked roads in Budhgaon in Sangli, while in Mumbai, shops remained closed in Ghatkopar.

Meanwhile, Internet services have been suspended in 7 tehsils of Pune district- Shirur, Khed, Baramati, Junnar, Maval, Daund and Bhor, as a precautionary measure.

Though Navi Mumbai has been excluded from the bandh, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in the densely populated township has decided to remain shut today.

Even as Maratha groups have excluded essential services from the bandh purview, the supply of vegetables was affected in some parts of the state, including Mumbai, APMC officials said.

A vegetable seller in Mumbai's Dadar area said the 'bandh' was not forced on them, but they had voluntarily shut down business for the day in support of the cause.

In Satara, no state transport buses were running today and all vehicles were parked at the central bus stand. All petrol pumps and vegetable markets were also closed in Satara. The pro-reservation agitators have decided to take out a bike rally in Pune district today.

A pro-quota group in Latur blocked roads from midnight and disrupted the vehicular movement. There were similar protests in Nashik, Buldhana and Solapur districts where agitators blocked roads in some areas this morning, police officials said.

The state-run public transport services have been partially suspended in Osmanabad and Buldhana districts to avoid any damage as protesters had targeted buses in the previous round of agitation last month.

During the violence on July 30 in Chakan area, 70 to 80 vehicles were torched and damaged.

The politically-influential Maratha community, constituting around 30 per cent of the state's population, has been agitating to press its demand for reservation in jobs and education. The community had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominently for reservation.

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