Dalit Groups Call Mumbai Bandh Today, School Buses Not Running:


Pics: Rons Bantwal
Kemmannu News Network, 03-01-2018 07:08:06


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Mumbai:  A day after angry Dalits hit streets protested in different parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai over the violence in Pune on Monday, Dalit groups have called for a state-wide shutdown today. Thousands of Dalits disrupted rail and road traffic, and damaged more than a hundred buses in Mumbai as they protested against the death of a 28-year-old man in Pune clashes and demanded action against those involved. More than a 100 people were detained as protesters went on a rampage and riot police had to be called in. The police said they have made elaborate arrangements in view of the call. Amid bandh call, there was an attempt to block trains in Thane this morning as prohibitory orders banning large gatherings are imposed in several areas, police said.

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The Mumbai police said extra forces have been requisitioned and some areas have also been identified where internet could be suspended to control rumours on social media, Director General of Police Satish Mathur told NDTV.

A school bus owners’ association said buses will not operate today, however, schools have made no announcement regarding closure. "Won’t run school buses in Mumbai today, can’t risk students’ safety and security. Will take a second decision at 11 AM if we can run them in the second half, depending on the situation," reported news agency ANI, citing Anil Garg, School Bus Owners’ Association.

Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, has called for a shutdown of Maharashtra and said 250 such groups are supporting the bandh call. He blamed some local right-wing leaders for Monday’s violence.

On Tuesday, over 160 buses were damaged in Mumbai by protesters, the police said. The protesters also disrupted road traffic in the suburbs and local train services on the Harbour Line, blocked roads in several areas and forced shops to shut down. Protests were also held in Kolhapur, Parbhani, Latur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Hingoli, Kolhapur, Nanded and Thane districts, the police said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who appealed for calm, ordered a judicial probe "by a sitting judge" into Pune clashes. Later, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Fadnavis about the situation.

NDTV journalists were attacked as groups of Dalits from Chembur, Vikhroli, Mankhurd and Govandi joined the protest, the police said. In Chembur, the protesters gathered on railway tracks to stop the movement of trains.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has attacked the BJP, in power both in Maharashtra and at the Centre, and its ideological mentor RSS, tweeting: "A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance."

BJP hit back at Rahul Gandhi accusing him of "petty politics". "Rahul G, You have focused only on Dalit votes for 60 years while in power & Not progress. PM @narendramodi ji is focusing on development, promoting them as entrepreneurs. Shame on you @OfficeofRG for petty politics! Time for you to apologise on your family’s & party’s behalf," BJP spokesperson GVL Rao tweeted.

The Pune police has registered cases against Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, who head two local right-wing organisations -- the Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan - after Monday’s clashes in which a man died and more than 12 people were injured. The two groups had opposed the event, asking why a British victory was being celebrated. Mr Fadnavis also announced Rs. 10 lakh compensation to kin of the man killed in Pune clashes.

Clashes broke out between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations during the bi-centennial celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha battle at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune. It is believed that Dalits were part of the British forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory was seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits, who celebrate January 1 as "Victory Day".

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