NEW DELHI, Jan. 3 — Authorities in India’s western state of Maharashtra Wednesday deployed adequate security at many places including Mumbai in wake of violence and a shutdown call.
The call for shutdown was given by Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar, leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (Majority Grand Union) against the government’s alleged failure to stop violence on Monday in Pune that left one man dead. Monday’s violence marred the the 200th anniversary celebrations of Bhima-Koregaon battle organized by Dalit groups.
Reports said several right-wing groups objected to the event, calling it “anti-national” and attacked it. Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar has appealed for peace during the shutdown period. On Tuesday violence spread beyond Pune as angry Dalits hit streets and protested in different parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai city, disrupting rail and road traffic, besides damaged more than 150 buses, demanded action against those involved in Monday’s violence.
Reports said over 100 protesters were detained and riot police was called in to contain situation in Mumbai and outskirts. “Today we have made elaborate security arrangements and prohibitory orders banning large gatherings have been put in place in several areas,” a senior police official in Mumbai said.
“So far no untoward incident of violence was reported from across the state. Local trains, city buses, taxis and other private transport services are running smoothly in the city,” according to the official. Officials said there was an attempt to block trains in Thane during Wednesday morning but that were thwarted. Government offices, schools and colleges in Mumbai are open but school buses in tense areas are off roads in Mumbai as a safety measure.
The School Bus Owners’ Association has said it would not operate its fleet of 40,000 buses as a precautionary measure. “We have decided not to run school buses in Mumbai today, as we can’t risk students’ safety and security. Depending on the situation, we will see if we can run them in the second half,” Anil Garg, head of school bus owners’ association said.
Reports said protesters halted buses, auto-rickshaws at Lal Bahadur Shastri Road in Thane and occupied the railway tracks at Nallasopara Station, disrupting rail traffic. Meanwhile, inter-state bus services from Karnataka-Maharashtra has been temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure.
Dalit groups on Monday were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle which the forces of the British East India Company had won over those belonging to the Peshwa. Dalits were previously known as untouchables in India and fall at the bottom of India’s caste hierarchy.
Inter-religious and inter-caste relationships are looked down upon in India and considered a taboo, especially in rural areas. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also appealed for calm and ordered a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Bombay High Court into Monday’s Pune violence.
Maharashtra Police Chief, Satish Mathur told media extra forces have been requisitioned and some areas have also been identified where internet could be suspended to control rumors on social media.