Maharashtra bandh: Prakash Ambedkar congratulates protesters for keeping their calm, tells Firstpost what's next

Mumbai: Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar, calling off the Maharashtra bandh around 4.15 pm on Wednesday, told Firstpost: "Whatever was in my hand, I controlled it today. The bandh took place without any major losses. Now, the law and order is in the hands of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and he can control the situation."

File image of Prakash Ambedkar. CNN News18

File image of Prakash Ambedkar. CNN News18

Ambedkar, president of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, explained that the bandh was slated for one day only, which is why it was called off in the early evening. He also said he spoke to Fadnavis on Tuesday night, before he called for the statewide bandh. "I have no political agenda," he said.

Ambedkar said that barring two incidents in Mumbai and one in Aurangabad, the bandh remained peaceful. "I want to congratulate the protesters for keeping their calm when emotions were running high," he said. He claimed that nearly 50 percent of the state's population participated in the bandh.

Ambedkar also appealed to the Maharashtra government and Fadnavis to arrest Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, the two men booked for the Bhima Koregaon violence.

"Hindu outfits are playing a key role in disturbing a peaceful society. I appeal to the state government and the chief minister to show guts to arrest Bhide and Ekbote. If Yakub Memon was booked under Section 302, why didn't the Home Department headed by Fadnavis book Bhide and Ekbote under the same section? I demand the immediate arrest of Bhide and Ekbote who provoked people to attack the Dalit community," he said.

"The 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune was on Monday, but why were there so few police?" he asked, alleging that Bhide and Ekbote incited mobs against those that had gathered at Bhima Koregaon on 1 January. He stated that he would continue to follow up until they were both behind bars.

"People are extremely hurt at the communal tensions in the state. The contributions of the marginalised community towards nation building are being questioned today. Right-wing organisations are dangerous for the country. People can decide for themselves if they want a peaceful lives or the always hidden tension that comes with right-wing ideology like that of the RSS," Ambedkar said.

"Fadnavis may have ordered a judicial inquiry, but it won't satisfy us if he simply appoints a Dalit judge to investigate the matter. We want a thorough inquiry," Ambedkar added.

The bandh, which was called by Dalit leaders on Wednesday morning to protest against the clashes that took place during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district on 1 January, affected normal life in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and various other parts of Maharashtra.

"We are examining CCTV footage," Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai. Fadnavis also appealed for calm on social media.


Several incidents of road and rail route blockades were reported during the day as protesters took to the streets. In Mumbai, the bandh took a toll on road traffic, rail traffic, business and even Bollywood. Incidents of vandalism of buses, taxi, autos and private vehicles were also reported in eastern and western parts of Mumbai.


Updated Date: Jan 04, 2018 06:54 AM

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