The presence of Shiv Sena cadre on Mumbai’s streets on Monday saw a near complete shut down of the city’s commercial establishments during the statewide bandh called by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies to protest the killing of four farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri.
While most of the commercial establishments remained shut, public transport was also affected as BEST buses as well as autorickshaws and taxis kept off the roads till 4 pm. Traffic on roads was very light.
The absence of buses and taxis caused an additional strain on suburban trains with most office-goers having difficulty in reaching both government and private offices, which were largely unaffected by the bandh call. Attendance in offices was largely unaffected.
Sena cadre actively enforces bandh
Shiv Sena unions and cadre ensured commercial establishments complied with the bandh.
The last time that Sena had given an official call for a bandh in the city was in 2003 to protest against the Ghatkopar blast. It was, however, slapped with a fine of Rs 20 lakh by the Bombay High Court after hearing a petition that alleged that the city suffered a loss of Rs 50 lakh due to the bandh.
Since then, the party has not made an overt bandh call barring in 2011, when Uddhav Thackeray called a shutdown in support of mill workers. The call was later withdrawn. In 2006, the Sena imposed a complete shutdown after the defacement of Meenatai Thackeray’s statue and later in 2012 when party founder Balasaheb Thackeray passed away.
Areas that are always bustling, including Dadar, Crawford market and Mohammad Ali Road, saw most shops downing shutters. Some opened up late in the evening after the bandh ended at 4 pm.
Transport services barring trains affected
BEST buses went off the roads early morning after incidents of stone pelting were reported. “A total of 11 BEST buses were damaged by protesters in stone pelting in areas like Dharavi, Mankhurd, Shivaji Nagar, Oshiwara, Deonar, Inorbit mall and Charkop. No bus conductor or driver was hurt. But passengers were on board the buses. We operated 1,833 buses today,” said Manoj Varade, BEST PRO. On an average, the BEST runs over 3,000 buses every day.
Railways saw more commuters than usual. “I had gone for the night shift on Sunday and didn’t know about the bandh. I struggled in the morning to get a bus and even auto. Thankfully, the trains were operational, so I could at least reach my home in Thane,” said Sayli Gaikwad, a health professional in a private clinic.
Taxi services as well as ride hailing apps kept off the cities roads till 4 pm. In Thane and Kalyan, auto drivers were stopped, threatened and assaulted by Sena workers for allegedly not following the bandh. Some activists also tried to block trains at Vikhroli, Mulund and Ghatkopar. However, they were not allowed to enter the railway premises.
Prushpa Bhoir, who works in a private firm in Dadar, said, “Today, there were no BEST buses and taxi drivers were also hesitant to ply fearing protests.”
The Navi Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee, meanwhile, kept its operation closed.
The Mumbai Police registered at least three FIRs and detained over 200 workers from MVA allies Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP for allegedly blocking roads and damaging BEST buses. They were allowed to go after a few hours.
The Vikhroli police registered an FIR against 10 to 15 people from Shiv Sena for blocking the eastern express highway in Tagore Nagar. The protestors burnt wooden sticks on the road, blocking traffic movement for over half an hour.
A second FIR was registered by Kandivali police for a road blockade violating Covid-19 guidelines on the SV road around 11.30 am. Fourteen people into taken into custody from NCP and later let off.
A third FIR was registered by the Samta Nagar police station against 40-odd MVA workers for unlawful assembly in Kandivali (East). They were detained and let off. In all three FIRs, the police said they will arrest the accused later.
More than 200 people were detained under the Maharashtra Police Act. At Worli naka, Mayor Kishori Pednekar was seen protesting on the footpath with Sena workers.