JALNA(Mumbai) TNI Bureau :– The city of Jalna in Maharashtra witnessed another day of turmoil as protests demanding Maratha reservation turned violent, leading to clashes between protesters and police forces. Incidents of vehicle arson and injuries to both protesters and law enforcement have escalated the situation.
On Friday, tensions boiled over as the police confronted demonstrators demanding reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs at Antarwali Sarathi village in Ambad tehsil. Tear gas shells were fired, and lathicharge was employed to control the crowd. In the ensuing chaos, approximately 20 protesters sustained injuries, while 37 police personnel, including an additional SP, were also reported injured. Four police vehicles were torched during the clashes.
The agitation, spearheaded by local Maratha leader Manoj Jarange, had been ongoing for days, with protesters staging a hunger strike at Antarwali Sarathi village.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has taken cognizance of the situation, ordering an inquiry and urging the public to maintain peace. Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis emphasized the government’s commitment to addressing the reservation issue through legal channels, stating that it couldn’t be resolved overnight. He defended the police’s use of lathicharge, attributing it to the protesters’ stone-pelting.
The incident has assumed political dimensions, with opposition leaders from various parties criticizing the state government’s handling of the situation. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar expressed dissatisfaction with Fadnavis’ management of the crisis, while Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray condemned the police action, claiming it made peaceful protests impossible in Maharashtra. Maharashtra Congress Chief Nana Patole went a step further, asserting that if the government couldn’t grant Maratha reservation, it should vacate office.
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Sanjay Raut, the chief spokesperson of Shiv Sena, accused Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis of sanctioning the harsh lathicharge, contending that the protesters had been demonstrating peacefully.
In response to the escalating unrest, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) suspended a majority of its bus services in several districts, including Jalna, Ahmednagar, Solapur, and Nandurbar, as a precautionary measure.
Protests have spread to other towns and districts, including Nashik, Buldhana, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Solapur, Beed, Sangli, and more. Prominent political figures have appealed for calm and urged dialogue to resolve the Maratha reservation issue.
The situation remains tense as leaders from various parties demand accountability from the state government for the violence and unrest that has gripped Maharashtra.