Free Press Journal

Maharashtra Bandh! How dalit agitation brought Mumbai to a standstill


PTI Photo by Shashank Parade (PTI1_2_2018_000164B)

Dalits came on Mumbai streets on Tuesday to protest against the violence that took place in Pune. In-wake of violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district on Monday, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar as called ‘Maharashtra bandh’.

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Traffic in Mumbai is now back to normal. Amitesh Kumar, Joint CP, Traffic, said, “All roads have been cleared and traffic has been cleared.”

The family of the youth who was killed in Moday’s protests told the leading newspaper that he had nothing to do with the protests.

“We have nothing to do with either the celebrations or the protests. We are Maratha. Rahul was coming home to Sanaswadi on his motorcycle early when he came to know that there was trouble and a traffic jam at Koregaon Bhima,” his youngest brother Tushar said.

Tushar said it was his brother’s bad luck. ” It took one stone to kill my brother. There was heavy stone pelting at Koregaon Bhima. But just that one stone thrown by someone at Sanaswadi snuffed out his life and nobody knows where it came from,” he said.

“There has been no death of a person from Dalit community. Wrong messages are being spread on social media, people have to be very cautious. The situation overall is peaceful in Maharashtra,” ANI quoted MoS, Home Rural Deepak Kesarkar as saying.

People from Ghatla, Chembur have started stone pelting at Samrat Ashok Nagar, an area highly dominated by Dalit protestors, Police is currently trying to handle the situation.

Ghodbunder road towards Gaimukh and Ahmedabad is completely jammed. Only trucks are lined up on the road. Heavy containers, supply truck stopped on Ghodbunder road.

Vashi Depot

Passengers stranded at both international and domestic terminals of the Mumbai airport.

Several markets and most schools in the city remained closed with protest marches taken out in many sensitive areas. Joint Commissioner of Police Shivaji Bodhke told PTI that two incidents of stone pelting were reported in the city. A man got injured in stone pelting in New Kamptee area, he said. Protesters blocked a road in Hingna area while tyres were set on fire on roads at some places, he said, adding that tight security arrangements have been made across the city. Two companies of the State Reserve Police Force and 250 home guards have been pressed into service. Police have appealed organisers of protest marches not to block roads, and hand over their memorandums of demands to police stations in the area, Bodhke said.

Lok Sabha witnessed uproar today as MPs raised the Bhima Koregaon clashes and protests in Maharashtra today. The Congress is demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi break his silence on the issue. “PM should give a statement, he can’t stay mum! He is a mauni baba (mute spectator) on such issues!” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said in the House.

Protesters are staging Rasta Roko, in Andheri on the Western Expressway Highway.

Today fresh protest were seen near Goregaon this morning where buses and autorickshaw was not functioning due to protest. Protestors were also seen blocking roads. Even school buses are shut today due protest.

Large number of protesters have occupied the railway tracks at Nallasopara Station, disrupting rail traffic. Administration and security forces are making all efforts to normalise the train operations on Western Railway, reported ANI. Group of people were also seen protesting at Worli.

Train services are being disrupted across Mumbai. Protestors are blocking trains at Govandi and Chembur railways stations. Trains on the Harbour line, too, have been disrupted.

Large number of people gathered and staged protest which lead to blockage at Eastern Express Highway.

Due protest Metro services between Ghatkopar and Airport temporarily affected, but services between Airport road and Versova are running normally, Mumbai Metro has tweeted.

The examinations at Mumbai University have been affected due to the protests. The university have issued a notification to allow students to arrive at their examination centres late, in view of the transportation problems. They have been allowed to arrive at least 1-2 hours late.

Protesters halt buses, auto-rickshaws at Lal Bahadur Shastri Road in Thane, also deflate bus tyres. Currently Section 144 has been imposed in Thane till 4th January midnight.

Even protests at Goregaon station, Western Line Platform No 1 & 2 at around 9am, 3rd January.

Group of people were also seen protesting at Thane station. Protestors staged rail roko, at Thane station. Section 144 imposed in Maharashtra’s Thane till 4th January midnight, reports ANI.

Mumbai dabbawalas announced they would not operate on Wednesday due to Maharashtra band called by different Dalit organisations.

Bus services towards Pune’s Baramati and Satara suspended till further orders, reported ANI.

“All trains services running normal in Pune division, security in place to maintain the situation” Divisional Security Commissioner D Vikas told ANI.

Even school children were send back, “It was left for the parents to decide if they want to send their their children to school, hardly 50 students came today. So now we are even sending them back home, teachers will also leave thereafter”,  a teacher at Mumbai’s Young Ladies High School told ANI.

Internet services suspended in Aurangabad, bus operations also affected due to Bhima-Korgaon violence.

Inter state bus services from Karnataka-Maharashtra temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure, reported ANI.

How did the violence start?

Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar has called for Maharashtra bandh tomorrow to protest the state government’s “failure” to stop the violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district on Monady.

Protest in Goregoan. Wednesday Morning.
Photo credit: Reynold D’sa

Protest at Goregaon East, IT Park, on Wednesday.

Protest at Goregaon East, IT Park, on Wednesday.

Ambedkar alleged that Hindu Ekta Aghadi was responsible for the violence. He said Maharashtra Democratic Front, Maharashtra Left Front, besides 250 organisations, have supported tomorrow’s shutdown. Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, has appealed for peace during the bandh period.

Referring to the caste clashes in Bhima Koregaon, Ambedkar ruled out any conflict between Marathas and Dalits. “If there was any tension, the 200th anniversary commemoration of the Bhima Koregaon battle would not have taken place. Yesterday’s programme was organised by Sambhaji Brigade (a Maratha organisation),” he said while addressing a press conference here.

Also Read: What is Bhima Koregaon Battle? Why after 200 years it has triggered violence?

He alleged the trouble occurred because of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan, headed by Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, respectively. “Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Sabha (ABHS), Peshwa heirs, had opposed the event. We held talks with ABHS after which they decided against opposing,” he said.

The event to mark 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, in which forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwa’s army, was marred by incidents of violence yesterday, with at least one person was killed.       Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community – then considered untouchable — were part of the East India Company’s forces.

Ambedkar alleged that villagers were provoked by the Shivraj Pratisthan while the Hindu Ekta Agadhi hurled stones at people going towards the Koregaon war memorial. He demanded that various types of grants and subsidies being given by the government to villages along Koregaon, Shiroor and Chakan, be stopped.

Ambedkar said a judicial probe ordered by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis into the violence should be headed by chief justice of high court and not by a sitting judge. Monday’s violence sparked off protests in various parts of Maharashtra on Tuesday, including in Mumbai where protesters staged a rail roko in suburban Chembur.

(Inputs from Agencies)