Latest updates: BR Ambedkar's grandson and leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh Prakash Ambedkar has called off the Maharashtra bandh. He said that there intention was to hold a peaceful protest to express their anger. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police said that the traffic situation was normalisisng. North and South bound traffic has eased up on Western Express Highway, while the Eastern Expressway is also clear up to Thane.
The Congress has blamed the RSS and Hindutva outfits for the violence against Dalits in Koregaon. “Caste-related violence is on the rise in the country. The RSS and other Hindutva organisations are trying to drive a wedge between the Marathas and Dalits in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is silent on the issue, he should come and speak on the floor of the House. We (Congress) demand an inquiry by a Supreme Court judge,” said Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, RPI chief and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale has virtually exonerated Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani from any role in instigating the violence at Bhima-Koregaon. "Police must have acted if Jignesh Mevani's speech was instigating. But he has no relation with this incident," he said.
Meanwhile, Mumbai continues to suffer due to the Maharashtra bandh called on Wednesday. Trains have been halted for brief periods in Virar, Goregaon, and Thane; Schools are declaring a holiday, while MPs have given adjournment motion notice in both houses of Parliament over the Bhima-Koregaon violence in Maharashtra. Violence marred the 200th-anniversary celebrations of Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune on Monday spilled into Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.
Protests have now spilled over to the Western suburbs. Protests have been reported in Andheri and Bandra's Kala Nagar too. Metro services have been affected as protesters have halted trains between Ghatkopar and Asalfa. Earlier in the day, Protesters blocked the Eastern Expressway at Ghatkopar.
CNN-News18 reports that protesters in Ghatkopar and Goregaon also forced people travelling in buses to get down. According to the report, protesters are stopping buses and allowing only empty buses to go ahead. In addition, the Barkat Ali Road in Wadala too has been closed by the police.
Protesters tried to disrupt railway service in Nalasopara on the Western line. However, with timely intervention of the police, the tracks have been cleared for traffic. The Central Railway, too, in a statement, said that train service is running uninterrupted except for some protests in Diva and Vashind. Overall, the situation overall remains under control in Mumbai and adjacent areas.
Section 144 has been imposed in Thane district till 4 January midnight as a precautionary measure. Schools and colleges in Maharashtra remain open and no holiday has been declared in the state.
Protesters in Thane, Virar and Goregaon tried to disrupt train services in the morning. However, the police was able to disperse them and re-start railway services. Nevertheless, BEST services are not plying on certain routes across Mumbai.
File image of Prakash Ambedkar. CNN News18
The caste clashes in Maharashtra has now reached the Indian Parliament. The Opposition has issued several adjournment motions to discuss the violence, which began in Bhima Koregaon on New Year's day. Home Minister Rajnath Singh is also likely to issue a statement in the Lok Sabha on the situation in Maharashtra.
Security has been tightened across Maharashtra in view of the bandh called by the Dalit groups. According to CNN-News18, several troops of the Rapid Action Force have been deployed across Mumbai, especially in eastern suburbs like Chembur and Ghatkopar, which were badly affected by violence on Tuesday.
However, the CNN-News18 report added that the situation is currently normal in the eastern and western suburbs of Mumbai. The Maharashtra government has urged citizens to not believe in any rumours of a holiday on Wedneday. Meanwhile, over 40,000 school buses will not ply on Mumbai roads on Wednesday fearing violence.
The state-wide bandh has been called by the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and several other Dalit organisations on Wednesday to protest the state government's "failure" to stop the violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district on Monday.
"We have made elaborate arrangements to keep the situation under control in view of the bandh. Extra forces have been kept on standby. Some areas have been identified where internet could be suspended so people cannot spread rumours on social media,” DGP Satish Mathur told The Indian Express.
Mumbai Traffic Police has also taken precautionary measures to ensure smooth flow of traffic. "All traffic personnel will be on their toes to ensure smooth flow of traffic, especially on the Eastern Express Highway," police officer told DNA.
Prakash Ambedkar had alleged that Hindu Ekta Aghadi was responsible for the violence.
He said Maharashtra Democratic Front, Maharashtra Left Front, besides 250 organisations, have supported Wednesday's shutdown.
Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, has appealed for peace during the bandh period.
Referring to the caste clashes in Bhima Koregaon, Ambedkar ruled out any conflict between Marathas and Dalits.
"If there was any tension, the 200th anniversary commemoration of the Bhima Koregaon battle would not have taken place. The program was organised by Sambhaji Brigade (a Maratha organisation)," he said while addressing a press conference in Mumbai.
He alleged the trouble occurred because of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan, headed by Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, respectively.
"Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Sabha (ABHS), Peshwa heirs, had opposed the event. We held talks with ABHS after which they decided against opposing," he said.
The event to mark 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, in which forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwa's army, was marred by incidents of violence on Monday, with at least one person was killed.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community — then considered untouchable — were part of the East India Company's forces.
Ambedkar alleged that villagers were provoked by the Shivraj Pratisthan while the Hindu Ekta Agadhi hurled stones at people going towards the Koregaon war memorial.
He demanded that various types of grants and subsidies being given by the government to villages along Koregaon, Shiroor and Chakan, be stopped.
Ambedkar said a judicial probe ordered by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis into the violence should be headed by chief justice of high court and not by a sitting judge.
The violence sparked off protests in various parts of Maharashtra on Tuesday, including in Mumbai where protesters staged a rail roko in suburban Chembur.
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Updated Date: Jan 03, 2018 18:58:26 IST