Responding to a call for state-wide bandh in Maharashtra, Dalit groups on Wednesday continued to disrupt rail and road traffic in and around Mumbai. Protesting against the violence that marred the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon, Dalits attempted to halt rail movement in Thane and Mumbai but services resumed shortly.
“Few protestors tried to disrupt Railway services at Thane but were immediately cleared by RPF and GRP officials. Services are running uninterrupted on Central Railway as of now” says CPRO Central Railway told ANI.
Protesters also halted buses and autorickshaws at Lal Bahadur Shashtri Road in Thane. A few were even seen deflating bus tyres. Considering the safety and security of students, many schools were shut for the day in the region. In a bid to defuse the tension, police imposed Section 144 till January 4 midnight in Thane.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the bandh affected traffic movement in the city leaving commuters stranded. “We are supporting this bandh only because we are scared of our loss. They can vandalize anything here,” a rickshaw driver in Mulund told ANI. Operations of private cab services like Ola, Uber were also affected as driver partners have stayed away from the roads since Tuesday night.
Shivani Tripathi, who works at Goregaon’s Nesco IT park, told The Indian Express, “I have been trying to look for a cab since half an hour to reach office. Cab services on Ola are not available.” Tripathi, an Andheri resident, said that even autos on road were very few. Surabhi Saraogi, also an Andheri resident, who reached Mumbai’s domestic airport late Tuesday night could not find Uber or Ola services. “I finally took an auto,” she said.
Routes to avoid:
# Below Akurli Bridge (Kandivali)
# Dindoshi near Santosh Nagar
# Kamraj Nagar (Vikroli)
# Kherwadi Jun (BKC) at Sai Prasad Hotel
# MIDC near Vijay Nagar (Jogeshwari)
# Arunkumar Vaidya Marg (Dindoshi)
# Kumbharwada Jun (Mahim)
# Western Express Highway at Goregaon, Eastern Expressway near Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar
# Eastern freeway traffic affected due to Road Blockade at Panjrapol junction.
# Ghodbunder road towards gaimukh and ahmedabad is completely jammed. Only trucks lined up on the road.
Mumbai Police advised commuters to avoid Kalanagar and MMRDA Junction for some time due to rasta roko. Also, those travelling to the airport were advised to leave well in advance keeping in view the likely traffic congestions/ diversions en route.
Traffic movement was also affected due to ‘rasta roko’ agitations at Bandra Kalanagar, Dharavi Kumbharwada, Kamraj Nagar, Santoshnagar Dindoshi, Hanuman Nagar Kandivali. Traffic was also affected on Eastern Expressway due to a blockade near Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar. Western Express Highway also remained blocked at Goregaon.
However, there was no interruption to train services in Mumbai except for a few minutes at Nallasopara, Diwa, Titwala and Vasind stations. Railway administration, along with RPF, cleared the routes immediately.
“The suburban train services on Central Railway, Mumbai Division’s Main line, Harbour and Transharbour line are running uninterrupted except for few minutes agitation at Diwa, Titwala and Vasind but the Railway staff, RPF and GRP officials cleared the path immediately and train services resumed unhindered. Due to this agitation of 10 minutes, a couple of trains were delayed for 5-10 minutes,” said Sunil Udasi CPRO at Central Railway.
Earlier in the morning, at least 13 BEST buses were damaged after protesters resorted stones pelting. Bus services towards Pune’s Baramati and Satara have also been suspended until further orders. Inter-state bus services from Karnataka-Maharashtra have been temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure.
The Mumbai Dabbawallas Association decided to suspend its delivery service for today. Head of the Dabbawallas association, Subhash Talekar, said it would be difficult to make deliveries due to lack of transportation
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Police has deployed 30 companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) across the state. Riot Control Police (RCP) has been pressed by Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad police amongst other district police.
“Even social media is being closely monitored to see that it doesn’t fan the agitation,” said a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official added that WhatsApp was used as a potent tool to spread hate message and gather protesters on Tuesday. “Application-based messenger services like Whatsapp played a crucial role in spreading hate messages and seeking the support of the protesters to join in the protest,” added the official.
Until Wednesday morning, the Mumbai Police had registered nine cases against protesters and detained over 100.
“Do not believe in or spread rumours and continue with the daily activities. The Police administration is there and geared up to deal with any untoward situations,” Mumbai Police PRO, DCP Sachin Patil said.
As a precautionary measure, the State Police in some areas of Aurangabad, Pune rural and Ratnagiri has suspended internet services so that people cannot spread rumours on social media.
Regulatory orders which include section 37 of the Maharashtra (Bombay) Police Act and Section 144 of CrPC has been pressed in many parts of the State including Thane.
With inputs from Rashmi Rajput, Tabassum Barnagarwala