Mumbai, Aug 7: Police in Maharashtra are gearing up to prevent violence during the Bandh (shut-down) called by Maratha organisations demanding reservations on August 9, an official said here. There would be a heavy deployment of security personnel, especially in sensitive pockets where violence had taken place during the agitation earlier, a senior police official said. The Union Home Ministry has provided additional security forces to the state. "We had demanded 15 companies. But the Centre has sent seven companies -- six of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and one company of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)," the official said. The state police force has a strength of two lakh including the State Reserve Police Force personnel, he said.
Home Guards too will be deployed to assist police, he said. "People will be allowed to stage protests peacefully. We are appealing people not to take law into their hands and not to believe any kinds of rumours," he said. If they find any suspicious activity, it should be reported to the police immediately, he said.
There would be video shooting of protests. These videos and CCTV footage will help police identify criminals and mischief-mongers who may try to take advantage and indulge in violence, the official said. Marathwada and Western Maharashtra as well as Navi Mumbai and Thane near Mumbai had witnessed maximum violence during the Bandh called by Maratha organisations last month, he said.
July 18 to 27, 276 cases of violence were registered across the state during the quota agitation. There were incidents of stone pelting at over 250 places and 198 incidents of arson, he said. More than Rs 4.5 crore-worth public and private property was damaged within 10 days, the official said. The politically dominant Maratha community is agitating for reservation in jobs and education. Maratha organisations have called for a new round of protests from August 9.