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  4. What led to state transport workers throwing slippers, rocks on Sharad Pawar's house? Explained

What led to state transport workers throwing slippers, rocks on Sharad Pawar's house? Explained

The state transport workers have been in a protest since November 2021. The main demand of the striking workers is that the cash-strapped transport corporation is merged with the state government.

Sri Lasya Edited by: Sri Lasya @laasiyapriya Mumbai Updated on: April 08, 2022 23:59 IST
Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporations, MSRTC, staffers, strike, Silver Oak, Nationalist Cong
Image Source : PTI

Mumbai: Police personnel in a scuffle with employees of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) as they protest demanding the merger of the MSRTC with the state government, outside the residence of NCP Chief Sharad Pawars residence, in Mumbai

Highlights

  • A group of striking employees staged a sudden protest outside NCP Chief Sharad Pawar's house.
  • Main demand of striking workers is that cash-strapped transport corporation is merged with state gov
  • CM condemned incident, saying that such targeting of leaders and their families was unprecedented.

A group of striking employees on Friday staged a sudden protest outside NCP Chief Sharad Pawar's house. In videos that surfaced online, the protestors were seen ferociously protesting by throwing rocks and slippers. While Pawar remained inside the house, his daughter and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule tried to reason with the protesters who numbered over a hundred, but in vain. 

The protestors had accused that the veteran leader has done nothing for them. But what led to the protests?

What led to the protests?

The state transport workers have been in a protest since November 2021. The main demand of the striking workers is that the cash-strapped transport corporation is merged with the state government. 

All 250 bus depots in the state have been shut since November last year, bringing a heavy impact on public transport. The protestors have been 'mourning' the deaths of 120 of their colleagues, who have died due to money-related stress. 

The protests started as the salaries of 90,000 employees have been frozen for 3 months during the pandemic. Several MSRTC workers committed suicide during these times amid financial stress. The state govt then decided to provide financial assistance to the state transportation workers. 

State transport minister Anil Parab on November 25 announced up to a 41% pay hike to the employees but in vain. At the same time, the govt fired over 12,000 staffers. The MSRTC took to the High Court on this matter and the HC directed the staffers to get back to work from April 22.  Friday's protests outside Pawar's house might have been triggered by the court's statement. 

ALSO READ | MSRTC workers protest outside Sharad Pawar's Mumbai home, blame NCP chief for their losses | Watch

What happened outside Pawar's house?

Protesters gathered outside 'Silver Oak', Pawar's residence on Pedder Road in south Mumbai, around 3 pm. The police, who seemed to have been taken by surprise initially, eventually took away most of the protesters from the spot and registered a case against 107 persons.

They also detained Advocate Gunaratna Sadavarte, leader of the striking workers, for questioning concerning the incident, an official said. A group of MSRTC employees reached Pawar's residence and started shouting slogans against the former Union minister. Some protesters were also seen hurling footwear toward the house.

"Some 120 employees of MSRTC have died by suicide since the strike began. These are not suicides but murders, caused by the state's policy... Sharad Pawar has not done anything to resolve the issue," a protester told reporters.

"This government did nothing for us. The Chanakya of this government, Sharad Pawar, is also responsible for our sufferings," said another worker.

Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule tried to placate the protesters. "I am ready to hold talks with you. Kindly cooperate...My father, mother, and daughter are inside the house. I am ready to hold talks with you. Let me ensure their safety first and I will continue talking with the protesters," she said.

In the evening, police registered an FIR against 107 persons for rioting and conspiracy at Gamdevi police station. There are 23 women among the accused, a police official said. The police also asked MSRTC workers who had been staging a sit-in at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai since the strike began to vacate the area immediately. 

How are the leaders reacting?

  • Pawar himself said in a video message shared by the NCP that one need not be surprised by what happened, and "if the leader is not wise, it has its effect on the workers." “We are with them (the workers). But not with the wrong leadership," he added.
  • Chief Minister Thackeray condemned the incident, saying that such targeting of leaders and their families was unprecedented in Maharashtra.
  • Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, who belongs to the NCP, said there will be a probe into the "unknown forces" behind the attack as well as the "intelligence failure".
  • BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said the incident outside Pawar's residence was "wrong by all means", and such agitations cannot be supported."I strongly condemn the incident,” the former chief minister said, while also adding that MSRTC workers have been protesting for over five months and their demands should be addressed properly.
  • Congress leader and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat demanded strict action against those who instigated the protest.
  • Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the protest was orchestrated by those for whom the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra is an "eyesore". State Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray visited Pawar's residence after learning about the protests, sources said.

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