PUNE: The quota stir took a violent turn in the city on Thursday and the police were forced to resort to lathicharge and bursting of teargas shells to disperse more than 1,000 stone pelting protesters who had blocked the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass near Chandani chowk for more than four hours since 11am.
The agitation threw the vehicular traffic on the key bypass, which links Pune-Bengaluru National Highway with Pune-Mumbai expressway and the old highway, into total disarray as the protesters appeared in no mood to relent to the repeated requests by the police and political representatives to clear the highway.
Protesters outside collector office.
Around 3.15pm, the situation took an ugly turn when a section of the protesters started pelting stones. The police responded by resorting to lathicharge and later used teargas to disperse the agitators. Tension prevailed in the area for quite some time amid heavy police presence even as another incident of stone pelting was reported from Bavdhan, which is located close to the bypass.
Elsewhere, in front of the Pune district collector‘s office, a huge mob gathered for a `Thiyya Andolan‘ (sit in agitation), grew restive, after their delegation handed over a representation to the collector, and started damaging a glass cabin and compound wall lights.
Some of their leaders repeatedly announced on mike that their stir was over and they should leave peacefully but trouble persisted for some time before the police brought the situation under control. Some of the protesters also threatened and charged at media photographers in a bid to prevent them from taking photographs or videos.
Sporadic incidents of stone pelting and damaging of PMPML buses were reported from Kumthekar chowk, Bibvewadi, Swargate and Hinjewadi. The locks on the gates of a prominent information technology company in Erandwane were broken while a glass door of a private bank on road too was broken.
Saffron flag-waiving youngsters could be seen zooming around on motorcycles in groups throughout the main thoroughfares of the city, shouting `Jai Bhavani, Jai ‘ and other slogans.
All roads wore a near deserted look for the better part of the day as all shops, trade, business and commercial establishments, barring medical and healthcare services, remained shut.
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