Protests spilled over to Mumbai on Tuesday as normal life was disrupted owing to clashes between the Dalit and Maratha communities a day after violence erupted during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district. Traffic came to a standstill and shops and business establishments were closed in many regions as Dalit groups gave a clarion call for “rasta roko” after one youth from the community died during the clashes.
The government went into damage-control mode and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident. The probe order was, however, rejected by Prakash Ambedkar, former MP and grandson of B R Ambedkar, as he called for a statewide bandh on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Dalit leader and new Gujarat MLA, Jignesh Mevani appealed to the people of Maharashtra to maintain peace.
Here are the top developments of the day:
1) Violence between the Dalit and Maratha communities was reported on Monday, after lakhs of Dalits gathered in Pune to attend an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The clashes had led to at least one person being killed and several injured, following which Dalit groups called for a “rasta roko andolan” in Mumbai.
2) Hundreds of people stalled train operations at Mulund, Chembur, Bhandup, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar in Vikhroli and Nehru Nagar in Kurla this morning. Shops and business establishments nearby the stations put down their shutters too. The Shiv Sena office in Chembur was also vandalised.
3) The nerve centre of the protests were in the Sion Panvel Highway near Chembur. Protesters stopped traffic in the highway and routes to Navi Mumbai were blocked. A huge police contingent was deployed in the area as protesters tried to march towards Ambedkar Garden but failed in their endeavour.
4) Meanwhile, members of the Maratha community also staged a protest in the morning in Pune and blamed the opposite community for the unrest. In Pune, buses and vehicles were set on fire and vandalised in Hadapsar and in Fursungi due to which services to main centres like Ahmednagar and Aurangabad were suspended.
5) Five people, including four cops, have been injured in the protests. More than 100 people have been detained at different locations, DCP Mumbai Police PRO said.
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6) Prakash Ambedkar said those involved in the riots were related to the ruling parties. Sambhaji Bhide of Shivraj Pratishthan, Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Gughe from Manjari were the main conspirators behind riots, he said.
7) Congress President Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, blamed BJP and the RSS for the mess. “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,” he tweeted.