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Shutdown call by Dalits in Maharashtra, school buses to remain off Mumbai roads

Wednesday January 3, 2018 8:39 AM, News Network

Dalit Protest

Mumbai, Thane, Akola, Ahmednagar, Dhule and other cities in Maharashtra remained on edge as after a day of angry protests, Dalit groups called for a shutdown in the state on Wednesday.

The schools have made no announcement regarding closure, the School Bus Owners' Association (SBOA) said it would not operate its fleet of 40,000 buses today.

"For security reasons, we have decided not to ply our buses in the first shift today. If the situation remains peaceful, we will run the buses in the second shift", Anil Garg, president of SBOA, told PTI.

"However, if a particular bus owner wanted to operate his services today, it would be his call", he added.

"Law-and-order is beyond our control. Therefore, we cannot take the risk," Garg said.

Demanding action regarding Monday's caste clashes near Pune, in which a man was killed, Dalit protesters had blocked major Mumbai roads at the rush hour, damaged scores of buses and disrupted rail traffic.

Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, has called for a bandh or shutdown of Maharashtra on Wednesday. Mr Ambedkar who leads a Dalit group, said 250 such groups are supporting the bandh call. He has blamed some local right-wing leaders for Monday's violence.

Violence erupted in Koregaon Bhima near Pune on Monday after a group and some members of the crowd on its way to visit the 1818 war memorial had an argument over some issue.

“Stone pelting started after the argument. During the violence, vehicles and a house in the vicinity was damaged,” a police officer deployed for bandobast at Bhima Koregaon said without elaborating.

Bhima Koregaon battle is remembered for the British Army comprising dalits that had defeated upper-caste Peshwas.

Over 160 buses had been damaged in Mumbai on Tuesday after protesters went on rampage following the Bhima Koregaon violence.

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. Heavy security had to be deployed in Mumbai's eastern suburbs.

Protests were also held in Kolhapur, Parbhani, Latur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Hingoli, Kolhapur, Nanded and Thane districts, the police said.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis while declaring judicial probe of the incident also announced Rs.10 lak compensation for the deceased’s family.

The police said they have made elaborate arrangements in view of the shutdown call.


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