Mumbai: A minor boy was killed in Nanded and several people were injured in Mumbai in sporadic incidents of violence which paralyzed large parts of Maharashtra during a 10-hour shutdown called by Dalit parties on Wednesday.
The 'Maharashtra Bandh' call was given by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and other parties, ironically, to protest against Monday's riots leading to the death of a youth from Nanded in Koregaon-Bhima in Pune district. The bandh was called off later in the day.
District superintendent of police Chandrakishore Mina said the victim's body has been sent for autopsy to ascertain the exact cause of the death.
The family of the deceased alleged that the youth - Yogesh Prahlad Jadhav - was seriously injured during police caning to clear a road block.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said all the incidents of violence across the state shall be probed and appropriate action will be taken against the offenders.
Protesters attacked buses, stopped suburban trains and blocked roads at various places in Mumbai as normal life was hit in the city and other parts of Maharashtra during the bandh.
Dalits staged protests in suburban Chembur, Ghatkopar, Kamraj Nagar, Vikhroli, Dindoshi, Kandivali, Jogeshwari, Kalanagar and Mahim, police said.
Hundreds of protesters tried to block the Western Express Highway in the morning but were moved from the spot by police.
Incidents of stone throwing were reported at a few places on the harbor line, police said.
Protesters jumped on rail tracks of harbor line at Govandi, Mankhurd and Kurla, due to which suburban services towards Panvel, Belapur and Vashi were stopped for a few hours, the official said.
On the Western Railway, protesters obstructed services at Nallasopara station.
Thirteen buses of the civic transport service 'BEST' were damaged by protesters in Kalanagar area (Bandra), Dharavi, Kamraj Nagar, Santosh Nagar, Dindoshi and Hanuman Nagar, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation official said.
Mumbai's famed tiffin carriers, Dabbawalas, chose not to provide their services on Wednesday.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader and B R Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar had called for the bandh to protest against the state government's "failure" to stop the violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district two days ago.
Later, announcing the bandh withdrawal, he alleged right wing leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote were behind the Pune violence and demanded that they be arrested and made to face the same legal process as Mumbai blasts accused Yakub Memon.
"Nearly 50 per cent of the state's population took part in the shut-down," Ambedkar told reporters. "Not only Dalits, but OBCs also participated in the bandh," he added.
Except for a couple of incidents, the bandh was largely peaceful, he said.
However, the situation on roads for the better part of the day belied Ambedkar's claim as incidents of road blockades, arson and stone-pelting were reported in Mumbai and elsewhere during the day.
While the state government said it hasn't declared a holiday in schools on Wednesday due to the bandh, bus operators said they won't run school buses in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Mumbai police registered nine cases on Wednesday in connection with violent protests in the city on Tuesday. Over 150 people have been detained in the city since Tuesday, police said.
The Eastern Express Highway was blocked for over five hours as protesters blocked it, police said.
Over 50 BEST buses were vandalized by protesters and four bus drivers were injured, police said.
Protests also took place in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Aurangabad, Pune, Nanded, Parbhani, Washim, Akola, Sindhudurg, Raigad, Kolhapur, where incidents of road blocks, vandalizing and stone pelting were reported, police said.
In Pune, Maratha outfit 'Sakal Maratha Kranti Morcha' sought stern action those responsible for rift between different communities and appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said those responsible for the caste violence in Pune will face action and the matter will be taken to its logical end.
He said the state government will soon approach the Bombay High Court, asking it to name a sitting judge to probe the January 1 violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district.
Violence erupted in Pune district on January 1 when Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the forces of the British East India Company defeated the Peshwa's army.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community were part of the East India Company's forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory is seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.
The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the the Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion.
On 1 January 1927, Dr B R Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers.