The second phase of the Maharashtra shutdown call by Maratha groups seeking quotas evoked a mixed response in Mumbai and coastal districts of the state, punctuated with incidents of stray violence, here on Wednesday.
Since morning large groups of Maratha activists armed with saffron flags and banners, took to the streets with noisy processions amidst tight police security in Mumbai and other districts like Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg.
Roads were blocked in several parts of Mumbai. There was an attempt to block the suburban railway system in Thane. Stones were pelted at city transport buses in Navi Mumbai, and private vehicular traffic was also stopped by the protestors.
Most shops and commercial establishments remained shut in important pockets like Dadar, Andheri, Mulund, Kanjurmarg, Borivali, Kandivali, and in many other places as Maratha activists went around requesting shopkeepers to down shutters and express solidarity with their cause.
A large group of protestors blocked certain pockets on the Eastern Express Highway and Western Express Highway, disrupting normal traffic movement, as well as arterial roads in the suburbs, stopping all vehicles from plying to and from on the highways.
Some protesters blocked the railway tracks at Jogeshwari but were evicted by the security forces and normal services resumed in 10 minutes, said a Western Railway spokesperson.
However, schools and colleges functioned normally, though there were reports of a drop in attendance. Mumbai’s lifeline the suburban trains and long-distance services were largely unaffected and other essential services functioned smoothly.
Today was the second phase of the state-wide shutdown call by the Maratha Kranti Morcha. The first phase was held spontaneously on Tuesday in most districts of northern, western and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra.
The Marathas are seeking suitable reservations in government jobs and education and the agitation conducted peacefully for the past over two years turned violent on Tuesday after a Maratha youth committed suicide in Aurangabad on Monday.
The shutdown organizers, the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government, and the police have appealed to all groups to maintain peace during the agitation.