Stray violence mars 'Maharashtra shutdown', over 3,000 held

Mumbai: At least three incidents of stone-pelting on public buses in Mumbai, Solapur and Aurangabad marred the otherwise peaceful Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA)-sponsored Maharashtra shutdown, which elicited mixed response, on Friday.

Terming it as a "success", VBA President Prakash Ambedkar announced at around 4 p.m. that the 'bandh' has been called off.

He also said that around 3,000 persons detained in different parts of the state were released in the evening, after the shutdown called to oppose the Citizens Amendment Act, National Register for Citizens and National Population Register (CAA-NRC-NPR).

Despite the shutdown call by over 35 social and trade unions, besides the support of another 100 other groups/organisations, normal life remained largely unaffected in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur and other major cities.

However, shops and establishments remained shut in some pockets of Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, Akola, though in Thane, some activists attempted to block a main road but were dispersed by the police.

Ambedkar said that though there was no compulsion on anybody to support or participate in the shutdown, some alleged Bajrang Dal activists forced shopkeepers in Palghar and other parts who joined the 'bandh' to reopen their establishments.

On the reports of violence in Thane and Mumbai, he said that the miscreants had come with their faces covered and it is upto the police to trace them.

In Mumbai, suburban trains and BEST buses - the city's lifelines - functioned normally, and most educational institutions, shops, malls, multiplexes, commercial plazas were open as police maintained tight security.

A group of people stopped a BEST bus on the Kurla-Chembur route and pelted it with stones, leaving driver Vilas B. Dabhade, 53, injured. He was rushed to the Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi.

Activists tried to block roads in some roads in the eastern suburbs but were thwarted by the police, and most shops remained shut.

Towns like Ambernath, Bhiwandi and Ulhasnagar in Thane, and Manmad in Nashik observed a near-total shutdown, with most streets deserted as all businesses were closed for a large part of the day.

There was a good response in Akola while the participation was partial in districts like Jalna, Pune, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Nanded, and Aurangabad.

In Solapur, some protestors stoned a State Transport bus and there were reports of minor violence in Aurangabad, but the police presence thwarted the situation from escalating.

Later in the day, several other anti-CAA/NRC/NPR related events like protest meetings, sit-ins and panel discussions were conducted in Mumbai, Pune and other cities as part of the state shutdown.

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