Mumbai, Jan 3: Dalit organisations have called for a statewide bandh in Maharashtra to protest against the caste-based violence that broke out on January 1 during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune. Fearing violence in Mumbai, the association of school bus owners have decided not to run school buses in the city. Battalions of Rapid Action Force have been deployed in Mumbai, especially in Chembur, which was affected by violence on Tuesday. Catch live updates on Maharashtra Bandh here
The protest has started in Thane, where angry Dalits blocked local trains on the Central Line. Authorised have imposed Section 144 in Thane following the agitation. Local trains on Central Line were running normally. Few protestors tried to disrupt services at Thane railway station but were immediately cleared by RPF and GRP officials. Mumbai’s Dabbawallas Association have also decided to not run its delivery service citing difficulties in transportation.
Shops were seen closed in several parts of Mumbai including Chembur, Sion, Kurla and Bhandup. Chembur wore a deserted look today as shops remained closed and only a few pedestrians were seen on the streets. On Tuesday, protestors had blocked local trains at Chembur station, disrupting services on Harbour Line. In Pune, school and colleges remained shut and streets were empty. Heavy security deployment was seen in Pune district.
Mumbai Traffic Police is taking precautionary measures to ensure smooth flow of traffic in view of the Maharashtra Bandh. “All traffic personnel will be on their toes to ensure smooth flow of traffic, especially on the Eastern Express Highway,” a police officer told DNA. Dalit activist and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani may visit Mumbai to participate in the protest. Prakash Ambedkar – the grandson of Bharat Ratna B.R. Ambedkar, has also supported the stir.
The violence broke out when at least five lakh members of the Dalit community had gathered in villages around Bhima Koregaon near Pune to attend an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon. The celebration resulted in clashes between Dalit and Maratha community members. A 30-year-old man died in those clashes. In the battle of Bhima Koregaon, the British Army comprising Dalits had defeated the Peshwas. A large section of Dalits views the historical battle as the defeat of the ‘casteism’ of upper-caste Peshwas.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge and a CID investigation into the Koregaon-Bhima incident. Pimpri Police filed a case against Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide who head Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan, respectively, and others under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and under various sections of the IPC including attempt to murder.