Protestors demanding reservations for the Maratha community in government jobs and education called off the shutdown in and around Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon, ANI reported. Train services between Thane and Vashi on the Trans-Harbour line of suburban railways also resumed.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government has taken cognisance of protests and is ready to talk to the Maratha community. “The government had formulated a law that provides reservation for the community but that was stayed by the Bombay High Court,” Fadnavis said.
Harshavardhan Jadhav, Shiv Sena MLA from Kannad (Aurangabad), resigned over the issue of reservation. On Wednesday evening, he left for Mumbai to hand over a copy of his resignation letter to the Vidhan Sabha Speaker in Mumbai, reported ANI. Jadhav is the son-in-law of Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit president Raosaheb Danve.
Earlier in the day, the protestors attacked public buses, blocked a local train and forced shops to close as they called for a shutdown in and around Mumbai. After protestors threw stones at buses, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport partially suspended services in affected areas, PTI reported.
Buses were attacked in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane districts. Protestors blocked some areas in Thane, forcing long queues of vehicles on the road leading to Mumbai. They also chanted slogans against Fadnavis and Public Works Department Minister Chandrakant Patil.
Addressing a press conference, the protesting groups said they had asked their supporters to hold a peaceful shutdown. The Maratha groups said the areas that they had designated for protests did not see incidents of violence. Violent incidents were reported from areas where they had not organised the protests, the groups said, adding that such incidents will be looked into. They groups also said that they will hold another protest and will release a press note about in soon.
Protests erupted again at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai in the evening, with protestors blocking the Mumbai-Pune expressway and pelting stones at the police, who resorted to baton charge. The police also attempted to force the crowd to disperse by using tear gas, the Mumbai Mirror reported.
The newspaper said that the Maharashtra Police have arrested 447 people from 45 areas in the state so far.
Meanwhile, a protestor who had consumed poison on Tuesday in Aurangabad died in a hospital on Wednesday, ANI reported. He had attempted suicide a day after another protestor died by jumping into a river in the district. The death on Monday had prompted the Maratha Kranti Morcha to call for a shutdown the next day. Another protestor who attempted suicide on Tuesday remains in hospital.
Protests on Tuesday had turned violent, leading to the death of a constable, while another got injured, PTI reported. When the Maratha outfits decided to continue the shutdown in six districts on Wednesday as well, Mumbai Police said that all “necessary deployments” had been made.
“We have also instructed our vigilance teams to keep a watch at sensitive pockets,” Mumbai Police spokesperson Deepak Deoraj had said, according to ANI. “We have told them to protest peacefully.”
The shutdown was being observed in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Palghar, Raigad and Satara, reported the Hindustan Times. The Maratha Kranti Morcha appealed to protestors to observe the shutdown peacefully after incidents of stone-pelting and damage to vehicles on Tuesday.
Essential services were exempted from the bandh, the outfit said. “Schools and colleges will not be included in this bandh as we do not intend to trouble anyone,” it said.
On Tuesday, workers of the outfit tonsured their heads in Gangapur town of the district, while others allegedly set a truck on fire. Protestors also set a fire brigade van ablaze in Kaygaon, police said.
Fadnavis called an emergency high-level meeting on Tuesday to review the progress made by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission on the community’s demand, reported The Indian Express. Last week, he had said that the Bombay High Court would take the decision on reservations.