Dalit angst triggered Maharashtra shutdown – A day after the bicentenary of a British battle with the Peshwas – marked by Dalits as a momentous episode in their history. A total of 154 buses were damaged across the state, including 20 BEST buses in Mumbai alone….reports Asian Lite News
The Maharashtra shutdown called by some Dalit parties started with attempts to block suburban train services in Thane and Palghar and processions in Mumbai and elsewhere on Wednesday amidst tight security across the state.
Groups of Dalit activists jumped on the railway tracks, shouting slogans and waving flags to attempt a rail-blockade at Thane and Virar stations in Palghar, but were prevented by the security forces.
In Mumbai, colleges and schools opened as usual but schoolbuses stayed off roads as a precaution. One private school bus was stoned in Chembur but there were no injuries.
Though many taxi-auto rickshaw unions have supported the shutdown, the city’s lifeline, the suburban trains and the BEST (Bombay Electric Supply And Transport) buses services were plying near-normally.
Some autos and taxis were seen plying in various areas, but the famed Dabbawalas cancelled their services for the day.
Many shops and establishments also opened for work as usual in the city and suburbs and there were the familiar crowds on roads and highways.
The shutdown evoked greater response in mofussil areas compared to urban pockets of Thane, Nagpur, Pune and other cities.
The coastal Konkan region reported a near-total shutdown, as also Dalit strongholds of Marathwada like Beed, Latur, Solapur, Jalgaon, Dhule, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Palghar.
Internet services were suspended in Aurangabad for the day.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses in some sensitive districts have been suspended as a precaution after it suffered damages to 187 buses in Tuesday’s violence.
The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, a Dalit party headed by Prakash Ambedkar – the grandson of Bharat Ratna B.R. Ambedkar, called for a ‘peaceful Maharashtra shutdown’ on Wednesday to express anger over the Pune incidents of January 1.
The shutdown call has elicited support from various Dalit parties, Leftist parties, some Maratha groups with the likelihood of other parties supporting it.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha was repeatedly disrupted and adjourned till 2 p.m. on Wednesday after the opposition created a ruckus over the violence in Maharashtra.
The first adjournment came minutes after the House met for the day. As the opposition members raised the issue and sought a discussion during Zero Hour, Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu adjourned it till 12 noon.
As soon as the House met again, the opposition members protested again — against the anti-Dalit violence. The Chair then adjourned the House till 2.
For a second time in this session, the Rajya Sabha TV suspended live telecast on Naidu’s instructions.
Film celebrities like Rahul Dholakia, Anubhav Sinha and Vishal Dadlani have condemned the Maharashtra shutdown called by some Dalit parties.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit tweeted: “Film and TV shootings have come to a halt at Film City, Madh and other locations as the unit members couldn’t reach the sets and due to fear of violence. Sad.”
The riots in Koregaon-Bhima in Pune district on Monday led to the death of a 28-year-old, Rahul Fatangale.
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party blamed the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state for security lapses that led to the violence.