Protests by various Dalit organisations to condemn the Kanpur statue desecration took an ugly turn in Ulhasnagar on Thursday with agitators in Ulhasnagar setting ablaze the Pune-bound Deccan Queen and two compartments of a Karjat local, despite the presence of the local police and the Government Railway Police (GRP).
Hundreds of protesters blocked the tracks, ordered passengers of the Deccan Queen to alight and then set fire to its A/C compartment. The blaze destroyed at least five of the train’s nine compartments. Around 300 passengers were stranded in Ulhasnagar and were provided shelter in the Swami Dharmadas Darbaar.
Papu Durga Prasad Gupta (35), part of the mob which set Deccan Queen afire was injured when the police open fired. Gupta has been admitted to Central Hospital in Ulhasnagar.
A passenger, D.P. Saabri told HT: “The hooligans entered the compartment forcefully. When we did not open the doors, they smashed the glass panes with steel rods.” He said the entire incident took place in front of the police and railway guards, but no one took any action.
The protests have been simmering since Wednesdy night. Four rickshaws and other private vehicles were damaged in Chopada court area and the road was also blocked.
Police detained a few hooligans. In protest, a mob started to march towards the Ulhasnagar police station. Police had to fire five rounds in the air to dispel the mob.
In Japani Bazaar, five people were injured when shopkeepers tried to stop a Dalit mob from entering the main market, sparking off violence between the two groups.
Speaking to HT, DCP S.D. Trimbakey said the situation was tense but under control.