Maratha quota violence: Cases lodged against 360 persons; activists firm on continuing agitation

Jalna Superintendent of Police Tushar Doshi told PTI that nearly 40 police personnel were injured in the violence. Police used plastic bullets and tear shells to disperse the protesters

 Vehicles torched by protesters in Jalna, Maharashtra (Photo: Social media/ X)
Vehicles torched by protesters in Jalna, Maharashtra (Photo: Social media/ X)


A day after an agitation for reservation for the Maratha community turned violent in Maharashtra's Jalna district leading to several people including dozens of police personnel getting injured, the situation was under control on Saturday, an official said.

Police have registered cases against more than 360 persons for alleged involvement in the violence though no arrest has been made, he said.

Opposition leaders targeted the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state over Friday's incidents, condemning the use of baton charge by police and demanding that the government take steps to provide reservation to the politically dominant Maratha community.

Police used baton charge and fired teargas shells to disperse a violent mob at Antarwali Sarathi village on Dhule-Solapur road in Ambad tehsil of Jalna district, around 75 km from Aurangabad, on Friday.

The protesters, led by Manoj Jarange, had been staging a hunger strike demanding reservation since Tuesday. The trouble began when police tried to shift Jarange to hospital on doctors' advice, officials said.

According to police, around 40 police personnel and some others were injured in the violence. The protesters pelted stones and torched at least 15 state transport buses and some private vehicles, they said.

"An offence was registered at Gondi police station in Jalna against 16 agitators who have been identified, and around 350 others for their involvement in violence," a senior police official said.

The case was registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 307 (attempt to murder), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and others.

Jalna Superintendent of Police Tushar Doshi told PTI that nearly 40 police personnel were injured in the violence. Police used plastic bullets and tear shells to disperse the protesters, he said, adding that the situation was under control now.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had on Friday made an appeal for peace and announced that a committee will be set up for a high-level probe into the violence, while Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis had claimed that the police were forced to use baton charge due to stone pelting.

The reservation in jobs and education provided by the state government to the Maratha community was quashed by the Supreme Court in May 2021, citing the 50 per cent ceiling on total reservations among other grounds.

Talking to reporters at Antarwali Sarathi village on Saturday morning, protest leader Jarange said, "The hunger strike won't be called off. Our sisters and the entire village have been protesting in a peaceful manner. The CM has formed a committee over the Maratha reservation, but it has not submitted a report and hence we are agitating."

Showing a bullet, he said, "These bullets were fired and we were baton-charged inhumanly. Women were also beaten up. Are we Pakistanis or do we have relatives in that country? Why did they fire? We will not stop until we get a reservation, let (CM) Shinde fire as many bullets as he wants."

A woman, who has also been on a hunger strike with Jarange, sought to know why the police baton-charged the protesters.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar blamed the government for using baton charge against `peaceful protesters'. He also said that the issues of a nation-wide caste census and removal of the 50 percent cap on reservations was discussed at the meeting of the Opposition's INDIA alliance, and they would be raised in Parliament.

Former MP Sambhaji Chhatrapati, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and prominent Maratha leader, visited Antarwali Sarathi on Saturday morning.

"Those on hunger strike here are followers of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and not of Mughals or Nizams. Firing on people and using batons against them used to happen during the era of Mughals and Nizams."

Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole alleged that police baton-charged the protestors in Jalna on the orders of the government to divert the attention from the INDIA bloc meeting which took place on the same day in Mumbai.

Even women and children were not spared during the baton charge, he alleged.

In the wake of the violence, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) decided to run buses only on selected routes in the division for the time being.

A 'bandh' was observed on Saturday in Beed in protest against the police action in Latur. The shutdown called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha was mostly peaceful barring a few incidents of stone pelting in Majalgaon, police said.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray demanded that the Centre provide reservation to Marathas during the special session of Parliament convened later this month. He also slammed the "government brutality" in dealing with the protest in Jalna.

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra assembly and Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar demanded resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Fadnavis over the violence. He also sought a special session of the Maharashtra legislature over the reservation issue.

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