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Maharashtra protests: 16 FIRs filed, over 300 detained, Centre given report on violence

Protesters vandalised buses, stopped suburban trains and blocked roads at various places in the state capital during a shutdown over the death of a man in Bhima Koregaon caste clashes.

mumbai Updated: Jan 04, 2018 13:31 IST
Maharashtra bandh,Bhima Koregaon,Pune
Dalit groups protesting at Thane railway station during the Maharashtra Bandh on Wednesday following clashes between two groups in Bhima Koregaon near Pune, in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)

The Mumbai Police registered 16 FIRs and detained over 300 people in connection with the violent protests by Dalit groups during the day-long shutdown on Wednesday against the January 1 Bhima Koregaon caste clashes, officials said on Thursday.

Daily life was disrupted in Mumbai as well as the suburbs of Thane, Dombivali, Navi Mumbai and across Maharashtra in cities such as Nagpur, Pune and Aurangabad because of the shutdown to protest the death of a 28-year-old man and violence near the bicentennial celebrations of a British-era war.

Protesters vandalised buses, stopped suburban trains and blocked roads at various places in the state capital as normal life was hit in the city during the shutdown, which was called off later in the day.

Over 200 buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation were damaged in attacks by protesters across the state, MSRTC officials said. The protesters attacked 13 buses of the civic corporation in Kolhapur, the home district of social reformist late Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, an official said.

Protests by Dalit groups were held in the district on Wednesday followed by counter-rallies led by Shiv Sena MLA Rajesh Kshirsagar.

The Kolhapur Police have suspended internet services till midnight on Thursday as a precautionary measure, an official said.

An office of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was attacked by agitators raising anti-RSS slogans in Parbhani district of the Marathwada region, police said, but no major damage to property was reported.

In Nilanga, the hometown of state labour minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar in Latur district, around 40 two-wheelers and 10 to 12 four wheelers were damaged by a mob, according to the police.

The Union ministry of home affairs has received a factual report from the Maharashtra government on the prevailing situation in the state in the wake of the caste-based violence in the western state, a ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

The home ministry and the Maharashtra government are in constant touch over the situation in the state, the spokesperson added.

Another official said the Centre assured the state government of all necessary assistance to deal with the violence and protests and bring back normalcy to the state.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said an inquiry will be conducted in the incidents and that the government was monitoring the CCTV footage of the violence.

The bandh, called by BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar and supported by 250 groups, was against violence that broke out near Bhima Koregaon, 40 kilometres from Pune, on January 1 that left one man dead and 40 vehicles charred or damaged.

Hundreds of thousands of Dalits had gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle between the Peshwa, the erstwhile rulers of the state, and the British. Many believe the Dalit soldiers in the British army defeated the much larger army of the Peshwa, who is said to have instituted oppressive caste practices.

The two Hindu right-wing leaders – Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan from Sangli and Milind Ekbote of the Hindu Ekta Aghadi from Pune – were booked by the police for allegedly inciting the January 1 violence.

First Published: Jan 04, 2018 13:31 IST