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Violence erupts during Maratha quota stir, homes of 2 MLAs torched

The residence of NCP MLA Solanke at Majalgaon town in Beed district was set on fire and stones were hurled at it by a group of quota agitators late in the morning, police said

Homes of two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs were set ablaze, while the office of another legislator from the ruling BJP was vandalised by protesters

Homes of two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs were set ablaze, while the office of another legislator from the ruling BJP was vandalised by protesters

Press Trust of India Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar
The ongoing agitation seeking reservation for the Maratha community descended into violence and arson on Monday as quota protesters torched, vandalised homes or offices of three MLAs, targeted a municipal council building and disrupted road traffic in Maharashtra, police said.
Homes of two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs were set ablaze, while the office of another legislator from the ruling BJP was vandalised by protesters, they said, adding no casualties were reported.
The incidents of violence and arson were reported from central Maharashtra's Beed and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar districts even as Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange continued his indefinite fast in support of the reservation demand at a village in Jalna district.
His condition worsened on the 6th day of the fast when he collapsed on the stage, prompting those present at the site to rush to his aid. On their request, he took a few sips of water. Amid the unrest, Jarange appealed for peace and said violent incidents will tarnish the image of their protest.
The residence of NCP MLA Solanke at Majalgaon town in Beed district was set on fire and stones were hurled at it by a group of quota agitators late in the morning, police said.
The group also set ablaze a car parked at the residence of Solanke after an audio clip of the MLA, in which he purportedly spoke about the Maratha quota agitation and made a veiled comment on the fasting quota activist Jarange, went viral.
It is not clear whether the Majalgaon MLA, who belongs to the NCP faction led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, was present inside the residence at the time of the incident which occurred at around 11 am.
"The incident occurred after an audio clip of MLA Solanke about the Maratha reservation issue went viral. A bandh was called locally. The house of the MLA and a car were torched by some people and stones were also hurled," an official told PTI.
In the audio clip, Solanke was purportedly heard saying that "the issue (the demand for reservation and the ultimatum of 40 days given to the government for its implementation by October 24) has become a child's game.
"The person, who has not even contested a gram panchayat election, has become a smart person today," he said in an apparent dig at Jarange.
Solanke told a news channel he was in Majalgaon when the incident occurred.
"Agitators surrounded my residence from all sides and nobody was in the mood to listen. Stones were thrown at my house and vehicles were also set on fire. I stand with the demand for the Maratha reservation. I have won the elections four times with the help of the Maratha community and I am a Maratha MLA," he said.
After the arson at the legislator's home, a group of Maratha reservation activists dispersed from there and later set ablaze the first floor of the Majalgaon Municipal Council building and vandalised it, another police official said.
The group, armed with wooden sticks and stones, first damaged the window panes of the building. The vandals them went on the first floor of the building and torched it, burning down the furniture there, said the official.
Fire brigade personnel rushed to the spot and doused the flames, he said, adding there were no casualties.
Beed Superintendent of Police Nand Kumar Thakur said, "The mob that torched the residence of Prakash Solanke later moved to the municipal council of Majalgaon. They torched the first floor of the municipal council building. Police teams that quickly reached the civic office took people out well in time so there was no injury to anyone."

A company of the State Reserve Police Force (around 100 personnel) has been requisitioned to maintain law and order in Beed district, he said.
"Pro-quota protests are going on at three to four locations in Beed district as of now," Thakur told PTI.
Police are scanning the CCTV footage of the area to identify the persons involved in torching the municipal council building and process was on to register an offence against them, he said.
Meanwhile, a group of Maratha quota activists barged into the residential premises and office of NCP MLA Sandeep Kshirsagar in Beed city and set them on fire in the evening, another official said.
Fire brigade personnel rushed to the spot to douse the flames, he said.
Police swung into action and dispersed the crowd which had gathered outside the MLA's residence and the office, said the official.
A hotel located near Beed city was torched by the Maratha activists. They also blocked a stretch of the busy Samruddhi Expressway at Jalna due to which heavy traffic jam was witnessed on the Mumbai-bound lane of the carriageway, he said.
In a separate incident, protesters blocked the Solapur-Akkalkot Highway by placing burning tyres on the road, said the official.
Maratha quota supporters, armed with wooden sticks, vandalised the office of BJP MLA Prashant Bamb at Gangapur in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar district, the police said.
They damaged window panes and furniture inside the office of the ruling party legislator, they said, adding two persons were detained for questioning.
Jarange, addressing the media at Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district, where his fast entered the 6th day on Monday, urged protesters to refrain from engaging in violence and arson.
The activist expressed concern over the recent incidents of violence and arson, emphasizing that such actions tarnish the image of their protest.
Jarange asserted he suspected the involvement of individuals with vested interests, potentially those in positions of power, in the violent incidents.
"I firmly believe common Maratha people are not behind these acts of violence. It is my sincere request to all protesters: refrain from any form of violence or arson. Such actions only play into the hands of those trying to defame our movement," he said.
Jarange sought to distance himself from protesters engaging in violence.
"From now on, I will not support any form of arson or violence. If these activities continue, I will take my own course," he warned without elaborating.
The activist urged Maratha community members to steer clear of political influences, asserting involving politicians in the movement could dilute their genuine cause.
"Violence does not bring justice. Our strength lies in our unity and peaceful demonstrations. We can achieve Maratha reservation through peaceful means," he remarked.
Maratha community members have been staging protests in different parts of the state seeking reservation in government jobs and education under the OBC category.
The agitation intensified after Jarange launched an indefinite fast on October 25 as part of the second phase of the stir. He was on a hunger strike from August 29 to September 14, and called off his agitation after the government assured to look into his quota demand.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Oct 31 2023 | 12:10 AM IST

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