Despite an appeal from the coordinators of the Maratha Kranti Morcha to pro-quota demonstrators to adhere to a ‘code of conduct’ during the shutdown on Thursday, the agitation for Maratha reservation turned violent in parts of Pune and districts in the Marathwada region.A mob vandalised a section of the Pune District Collectorate, while traffic along the Mumbai-Pune expressway was held up for several hours during the day as protestors staged demonstration at the Urse toll plaza.The police resorted to a lathi charge and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse a restive mob of nearly 1,000 agitators pelting stones in the city’s Chandni Chowk area, after they blocked the Katraj-Dehu road bypass for several hours, leading to snarls along the Pune-Bengaluru highway.Sources said a police van was damaged while some personnel suffered minor injuries.In spite of a robust security shield in place, the spectre of vandalism loomed large in the Maharashtra’s hinterland as educational were closed and business establishments put up the shutters in most parts of the State in response to the shutdown call.Tension prevailed in parts of Pune in the latter half of the day despite the agitation proceeding peacefully till noon.A mob damaged the security cabin of the District Collectorate and destroyed some lamps after the peaceful conclusion of a demonstration called by the Sakal Maratha Samaj.“After a section of the Maratha reservation demonstrators submitted a memorandum on the quota issue, an aggressive mob of youngsters, aged 18-25 years, stormed the Collectorate premises demanding immediate reservation. Till then, the agitation [held by the Sakal Maratha Samaj] outside the building had ended without incident,” said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, adding that the situation was brought under control.The mob reportedly attempted to prevent television media personnel from trying to cover the incident.Shantaram Kunjir, one of the Morcha coordinators in Pune, remarked that the aggressors who vandalized the security cabin of the Collectorate were not part of the pro-quota demonstration and that Morcha coordinators could not control the situation in such cases.“This is becoming a familiar pattern. Following the conclusion of a sit-in by a Maratha outfit, one finds anti-social elements trying to disrupt the peace. It has become imperative to discern between true reservation agitators and miscreants who join in the agitation from rural areas,” said Rajendra Kondhare, general secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Maratha Mahasangh. Unrest in MarathwadaIn Aurangabad’s Waluj MIDC area, mobs torched a couple of private vehicles and a police van, compelling security personnel to resort to a lathi charge and fire tear-gas shells.Meanwhile, in Latur district, agitators pelted stones on the car of Congress legislator Trimbak Bhise.Mr. Bhise, who attempted to join the agitation, was instead heckled and jeered at him till he was compelled to beat a hasty retreat.Buses damaged in NashikDespite appeals to agitators not to indulge in wanton destruction of public property, incidents of pelting of stones on State Transport buses were reported from Nashik.According to authorities, the windows of some private vehicles were smashed after a hitherto peaceful ‘sit-in’ at Nashik’s Dongre Vasti Gruh Maidan suddenly turned violent. A mob heckled and shoved former legislator Manikrao Kokate when he attempted to join in the agitation.In Hingoli district, there were reports of a mob torching a mini school bus, while agitators, along with their livestock, staged roadblocks in some areas of Parbhani district.Besides Pune and Ahmednagar districts, schools, colleges and varsities remained shut in a number of districts in the Marathwada region, including Aurangabad, Jalna, Nanded and Beed.Agitators set up barricades of burnt tyres along the Madha-Shetphal road in rural Solapur.Internet services suspendedAs a prudential measure, district authorities suspended Internet services in seven taluks in Pune, including Baramati, Shirur, Junnar and Daund for the better part of the day. Likewise, there was a clampdown on Internet services in Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur districts in western Maharashtra as well.Chakan MIDC, which witnessed an unprecedented bout of violence last week, came to a standstill following the shutdown call. Drones were deployed to preclude a replay of the vandalism and clashes of July 30, when more than 70 vehicles were damaged and eight policemen injured.Most IT companies in the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park in Pune’s Hinjewadi area remained closed.The district’s municipal bus transport service – Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) – suspended bus services along major routes, while cab aggregators like Ola and Uber operated on a reduced scale.There were reports of one ST bus damaged in the city’s Laxmi Road area. Around 200 activists briefly staged a ‘rail roko’ agitation at the Lonavala station.Pro-quota agitators staged a sit-in outside the Baramati residence of Maratha strongman and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. NCP leader Ajit Pawar later joined the demonstration and raised pro-reservation slogans.The Mumbai-Pune expressway witnessed markedly reduced vehicular movement while the traffic all but came to a standstill on the Pune-Ahmednagar road.Roadblocks were also erected at a number of points in Malegaon in Nashik district.