Maharashtra bandh: Protesters detained, BEST bus attacked during VBA shutdown against CAA, NPR
Several protesters were detained and a bus was damaged in Mumbai on Friday during the shutdown called by Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) across Maharashtra against the amended citizenship act and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Prakash Ambedkar claimed that VBA has the support of more than 35 organisations for the shutdown and appealed other political parties to join the protest.
The shutdown did not affect normal life in the city as trains and buses operated normally throughout the morning. However, the VBA’s activists forced shopkeepers in areas of Mulund, Airoli, Ghatkopar, Govandi, Wadala and Chembur to shut down.
A VBA activist, who was forcing the shopkeepers to down their shutters at Barket Ali Nagar at Wadala, defended his decision saying it was being done to protest the present policies of the government.
“Shopkeepers should understand that we are undertaking this agitation for them and hence they need to participate,” the activist, who declined to be named, said.
Shopkeepers forced to close their shops said they had no choice.
A thick security blanket was thrown in at the communally-sensitive pocket of Ramabai Nagar in Ghatkopar off the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) since Friday morning. The EEH, which connects the eastern suburbs to south Mumbai, is widely used by office-goers and has witnessed demonstrations in the past.
“We have taken all the necessary preventive measures,” said Akhileshkumar Singh, deputy commissioner of police (Zone 7) who has been stationed at Ramabai Colony.
“The situation is normal and the routine life is not affected. Steps have been taken to ensure that others are not disturbed,” Singh said.
The windshield of a BEST bus, which operates on route number 362, was damaged in stone-pelting in Chembur at around 9.15am. The bus’ driver Vilas Dabhade, 53, sustained injuries on both his hands due to the broken glass shards.
“The driver has been admitted to Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi for further treatment. Fortunately, no passenger was injured in this incident,” BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said.
VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar sought to distance himself from the stone pelting and said the overall response to the call was very good.
“People have responded very positively to the bandh. However, there are some who want to ensure that the bandh fails. Even the people who attacked the bus had covered their faces and were not our activists,” said Ambedkar.
A VBA member, who is set to take part in the protest, said there would be demonstrations in some areas but neither traffic nor the people would be impacted.
Schools and colleges functioned as per their regular schedules during the first shift.
“We had good attendance and everything was normal in our locality,” the principal of a school in Tilak Nagar said.
The shutdown has also been to protest the economic policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government, which Ambedkar said were ruining the country.