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Dalit protests’ violence: Bandh enforced as Pune shuts down to avoid “high-risk” situation

School pick-ups stay off the roads, exams postponed, business establishments shut as police ready to ensure situation does not get out of hand

pune Updated: Jan 03, 2018 15:52 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Dalit,Koregaon Bhima,violence
New English School on Tilak road wore a completely deserted look today. (HT Photo)

PUNE While shopkeepers preferred to open their establishments and public transport ran smoothly during the morning hours on Wednesday, most schools in the city remained shut, after managements asked students not to come as a precautionary measure in view of Tuesday’s violence.

Violence erupted on Tuesday near Bhima Koregaon, where hundreds of thousands of people gathered to celebrate an 1818 war between the Peshwa and the British, whose army comprised many Dalit soldiers.

The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) postponed its Masters of Commerce exam to avoid possible inconvenience to the students due to the bandh. Many schools preferred not to take attendance, asking parents to take a call on whether to send their children to school or not. At many schools, celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of social reformer Savitribai Phule had to be cancelled due to thin attendance of students.

“Officially, we did not declare that we will close the school. We are not taking any attendance. If parents want to bring their children to schools, then it’s fine,” said Flory Fargose, principal, St Joseph’s school.

Most parents were rendered helpless as pool vehicles and school vans remained off the roads.

Bus stops remained empty as transport services were pulled off the road. (HT Photo)

“We were waiting and anxious in the morning about the situation in schools, but eventually couldn’t send our child to school today, as the van driver refused to come,” said Suresh Nikam, a parent.

Sachin Dinde, a van driver from Vishrantwadi, responded, “None of us are going to pick up students for school in this high risk situation. This was decided last night itself.”

Meanwhile, city police said they will be keeping a close watch on sensitive places like near statues of Babasaheb Ambedkar and at temples in the city.

Commissioner of police Rashmi Shukla said quick response teams (QRT) have been deployed in sensitive areas to prevent any untoward situation. The police have also deployed two companies of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) in the city on Wednesday in view of the bandh and violence in Koregaon Bhima.

Violent protests erupted in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad on Tuesday after clashes between the two communities at Bhima Koregaon and neighboring villages during celebrations to mark the bicentenary of British-Peshwa war. As per the reports, around six buses were damaged during the protest.

All business establishments in the PCMC area remained closed. (HT Photo)

Vegetable inflow at market yard was normal with operations running smoothly. However, many state transport buses did not ply in view of the violence, officials said.

First Published: Jan 03, 2018 15:22 IST