Mumbai, Aug 9 (IANS) Despite appeals by the organisers, the Maratha-sponsored Maharashtra shutdown turned violent in many parts of the state with incidents of arson, road blocks and clashes with police before it ended on Thursday evening, officials said.
Though the shutdown got on to a peaceful start in the morning, within hours there were many incidents of violence, especially in Pune district. A dozen public and private vehicles were damaged in other parts of the state.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha and Sakala Maratha Samaj had issued a ‘code of conduct’ to the supporters to ensure a violence-free shutdown but it remained on paper.
In Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, only token protests were held, the suburban trains services on the Western Railway, Central Railway and Metro Railway operated normally and traffic was unhindered.
Attempts were made to block the railways in Nagpur, Pune and Nanded. The Umri railway station was attacked and damaged, leading to delays or cancellations of several long-distance trains on various routes.
As a precaution, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corp (MSRTC) suspended its services in most parts of the state to avoid being targetted by activists. Lakhs of travellers in rural areas were badly hit.
There were road blocks on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Mumbai-Goa Highway, Mumbai-Nashik Highway and the old Mumbai-Pune Highway which remained practically traffic-free due to the shutdown.
In Pune, protestors staged a sit-in outside the Baramati (Pune district) home of Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and in Latur, Congress legislator Triambak Bhise’s vehicle was stoned and he was roughed up before the security officials came to his rescue.
Activists climbed on the walls of the Pune Collectorate building, induled in stone-pelting and attempted to stop mediapersons from reporting the protests.
Internet services were snapped as a precaution in Navi Mumbai and several districts like Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Aurangabad, Osmanabad, Yavatmal and Ahmednagar.
In Latur, Sholapur, Jalna, Hingoli and Ahmednagar, tyres were burnt on roads. In Kolhapur, Palghar and several other places, roads were blocked while most districts like Pune, Ahmednagar, Washim, Dhule, Buldhana, Nanded, Akola, Parbhani witnessed near total shutdown.
Although Nashik city remained normal, the situation elsewhere in the district was different with roadblocks, processions and sit-ins. Similar agitations were reported in Nagpur, where activists performed prayers to a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
In Yavatmal, a bike rally was taken out and a bullock cart procession hit the roads in Nanded.
A group of activists went to the Aurangabad MIDC and indulged in stone-pelting at several companies. Police responded by firing in the air.
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena legislator Prakash Ambitkar attempted to enter the Maharashtra legislature building but was prevented by the security, and he sat on a dharna opposite the gates.
In Sindhudurg district, Marathas staged a ‘jail-bharo’ agitation in all sub-districts. They were later let off.
Though exempt from the shutdown, many schools and colleges in the state remained shut as students and teachers could not reach on time owing to the agitation.
The shutdown was called off at 5 p.m., in some places by singing the National Anthem.