After 2 days, Maharashtra bandh called off by Ambedkar's grandson
Today's Maharashtra bandh was called off at around 4:30pm by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar. He also demanded right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, believed to have triggered the clashes, be treated like Yakub Memon for 'culpability for violence'. Despite high security presence, protesters managed to stop metros, trains and vehicles at various places. Arson was also reported.
A brief background of the protests
Violent protests erupted after one person died in clashes between the Marathas and the Dalits in Bhima Koregaon on January 1. Lakhs of Dalits had gathered to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, a British vs Maratha battle where the former's forces mostly comprised Dalits.
Protesters stopped trains, blocked roads, vandalized buses and property
Dalit protesters went on a rampage yesterday in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and elsewhere, demanding justice for the victim. Over 160 buses were damaged in Mumbai alone, NDTV reported. Roads were blocked and services on the Harbor Line stopped. About 100 people were detained. CM Devendra Fadnavis has announced Rs. 10L compensation for the victim's kin and ordered a probe into the death.
Security high for Maharashtra bandh, prohibitory orders clamped
Today's shutdown was called by Prakash Ambedkar. About 250 groups had joined in, he said. Protesters stopped trains at Borivali, Goregaon and Virar. Stone-pelting was reported in Aurangabad. Bus services along some routes were suspended. Schools in Thane remained shut. Savitribai Phule University postponed its exams. Additional forces were deployed and prohibitory orders clamped.
These places were the worst affected
Protests took place in Pune, Nagpur, Baramati, Aurangabad, Thane and other places. In Baramati, Sangli and Miraj, the shutdown was total. Students in Delhi protested in front of the Maharashtra Sadan.
The men behind the riots
Cases have been filed against Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, heads of right-wing Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan. They opposed the Bhima Koregaon commemoration and desecrated the samadhi of Govind Gaikwad, a Mahar ('untouchable'). Gaikwad is believed to have performed Chhattrapati Shivaji's son Sambhajiraje Bhosale's funeral when nobody else would do so, fearing Mughal wrath. Ekbote and Bhide believe Marathas conducted Bhosale's funeral.