At least a dozen police officers were injured after a protest for the Maratha reservation in the Jalna district of central Maharashtra turned violent on Friday as protestors resorted to stone-pelting. To disperse the crowd, police used lathi-charge and fired teargas shells at a mob at Antarwali Sarathi village on Dhule-Solapur road. Villagers also claimed that police fired some rounds in the air, but officials did not confirm it.
Several vehicles were also set on fire and were vandalised, including the state transport buses.
The protesters, led by Manoj Jarange, had been staging a hunger strike demanding reservation for the Maratha community at the village since Tuesday.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde appealed to people to maintain peace and announced that a committee will be set up for a high-level probe into the violence. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the police were forced to use baton-charge due to stone pelting.
Taking to X (formally Twitter), CMO said, “The incident of lathicharge on the protestors in the ongoing protest for Maratha reservation here is very unfortunate. The Collector and the Superintendent of Police have taken information about the incident and have ordered an inquiry.”
#जालना येथे मराठा आरक्षणासाठी सुरू असलेल्या आंदोलनातील आंदोलकांवर झालेल्या लाठीमाराची घटना अत्यंत दुर्दैवी आहे. जिल्हाधिकारी आणि पोलीस अधीक्षकांकडून या घटनेची माहिती घेतली असून चौकशीचे आदेश दिले आहेत. जनतेने शांतता राखावी, असे आवाहन मुख्यमंत्री @mieknathshinde यांनी केले आहे.— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) September 1, 2023
The reservation provided by the state government for the politically dominant Maratha community was quashed by the Supreme Court earlier.
The chief minister had spoken to the protesters on Wednesday, urging them to end the hunger strike, but they refused to relent, officials said.
On Thursday, shops and other commercial establishments at Wadigodri village in Ambad tehsil had remained closed, while there was a massive protest gathering at Shahgadh earlier in the week.
Additional police forces have been sent to Jalna, officials said.
With inputs from News18