The bandh called by the Shiv Sena on Tuesday started on a violent note and ended with the party declaring that it will not stop the campaign till the statue of Dadoji Konddeo is restored to its original place in the Lal Mahal.
However, the average Puneite was able to carry on with his daily activities.
The bandh was called a day after the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) removed the statue of Dadoji Konddeo, whose status as Shivaji's mentor is a matter of debate, from the historic monument Lal Mahal.
A total of 53 buses were destroyed by the Shiv Sainiks during the day. More than 375 people were detained and let off by the police. The Shiv Sena blocked the Bangalore Pune express highway in protest. Later in the day, a bus was set on fire in Pune's Chinchwad area.
In the nearby Lonavala district too, Shiv Sainiks attempted to stop trains from leaving the station. Security was beefed up at various political establishments, according to Pune Commissioner of Police Meera Borwankar. Police bandobast was witnessed at major bus stands and railway stations.
Speaking to the media at the end of the day, Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe claimed that the bandh was successful, while accepting that the protest did take a fierce turn. “Six hundred-year-old history cannot be changed forcefully. Our opposition today was against the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress government. It was not against the people,” she said.
Many civic rights organisations opposed the bandh. “The Opposition parties forget other pressing needs of the city and are fighting for an issue that most Punekars are not worried about,” Kiran Moghe of the All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) said. “The corporation could have decided on the issue in a democratic way. All the parties are only trying to play caste politics through this entire episode.”
However, the Sena-BJP combine denied the allegation that it was trying to polarise castes. The ruling NCP-Congress alliance made it a political issue, it said. “This is a social issue. We are answerable to our people,” BJP leader Girish Bapat said. “The guardian Minister Ajit Pawar has said that he was not involved in this decision, but we do not buy that. It is they who are playing the political game. They want to win the election on this emotional issue, not us.”
Meanwhile, a police case was registered against 32 corporators who created ruckus at the Pune Municipal Corporation on Monday. The loss at the PMC amounted to Rs 5,73000, according to the police. In an unusual move, the four parties have agreed to share the compensation cost, so as to not bother the tax payer.
There were protests in Aurangabad, Kolhapur and Sangli also.