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Maratha stir may affect business prospects: Marathwada chambers


MUMBAI: Growing incidents of violence and arson in Maharashtra are likely to deter companies wanting to invest in the state, the head of a regional industrial lobby group has said.

Ram Bhogle, president of the Marathwada Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, on Friday said that over the last eight months, Maharashtra has seen at least three strikes and twice the number of riots, which have left industries worried about the law and order situation in the state.

His comment follows incidents of violence and arson a day earlier during the Maratha reservation stir, in which several multinational and Indian companies were targeted by agitators who destroyed property worth about Rs 35-40 crore, according to one estimate.

“The government will never be able to provide enough jobs; it is the private sector that will be creating jobs. However, with violence like yesterday’s you are actually threatening the livelihood of people who are dependent on industries coming here,” Bhogle told ET. “According to me, they have jeopardised the chances of industries coming in Aurangabad for the next five years.”

On Thursday, agitators targeted most companies in Walunj-MIDC, ransacking the lobby, burning conference rooms and vandalising four- and two-wheelers parked in the building complex.

At a meeting of industry heads in Marathwada, some executives called for shut down till the culprits are brought to book, while some suggested holding back tax payment till appropriate action is taken.

There is also speculation that the violence could have been perpetrated by the trade unions, and not those agitating for reservation, as the mob knew where the CCTV was. “This is a possibility, because they even knew where the plant manager sits, they knew where the DVRs for the CCTVs were kept,” said Bhogle.

Maratha community leaders, too, claimed that their workers were not involved in the violence and that there needs to be an investigation.

The state has seen caste-based agitation and violence since the beginning of this year. On January 1, there were the Bhima-Koregaon riots, when Dalits going to commemorate the Bhima Koregaon battle were beaten up. The next two days saw retaliation from an irate Dalit community.

The Maratha reservation stir, which has been on for nearly two months now, has seen incidents of violence and two calls for a statewide bandh.

Industrialists have alleged that police remained mute spectators while mobs went on a rampaging spree. IAS and IPS officials ET spoke with said the state government has advised not to “aggravate the situation”.

“We have been told not to fire at all at the mob. We are allowed a lathi-charge, but it should NOT lead to death or any serious injury to protestors. We have been allowed tear gas shells,” said an IAS officer. “There are no directions on whether we can make any preventive arrests.”

In the midst of this, the transfer of top IPS officials appears to have hampered state response.

Source: Economic Times