03/01/2018 10:48 AM IST | Updated 03/01/2018 11:14 AM IST

Section 144 Imposed In Thane, Mumbai On The Edge After Dalit Leaders Call For Bandh

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
Riot police walk past a damaged public bus during a protest in Mumbai, India January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A day after riot police was called to the streets of Mumbai to prevent violence from breaking out over the death of an activist injured in clashes during the bicentenary celebration of a historic battle that marked Dalit assertiveness over caste oppressors, Section 144 was imposed on Maharashtra's Thane district till the midnight of 4 January to control the situation.

Mumbai remained tense today after a call for shutdown by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, supported by around 250 Dalit groups, following Monday's violence.

The Maharashtra government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the violence as traffic came to a halt on the Eastern Express Highway near Mumbai yesterday, shops were shut and the Central Railway suspended suburban services between Kurla and Vashi.

Dalits believe that the East India Company's victory in the Bhima-Koregaon battle of 1 Jan, 1818, with help from about 500 soldiers from the then untouchable Mahar community, over a 28,000-strong Maratha troop led by Peshwa Baji Rao II, is a symbol of their resistance against Brahminical tyranny. Dalit icon BR Ambedkar is said have visited the site in 1927.

According to reports, the large crowd that the event drew this year upset right-wing outfits who look upon the celebration of a British victory as anti-nation. Right wing groups have been blamed for instigating the violence in Pune that claimed the life of a Dalit protestor.

ANI reported that protestors halted trains at Thane railway station.

"Few protestors tried to disrupt railway services at Thane, but were immediately cleared by RPF and GRP officials. Services are running uninterrupted on Central Railway as of now," the Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of Central Railway told ANI.

Huge security forces have been deployed in Ghatkopar's Ramabai Colony and Eastern Express Highway, the report said.

Schools in Mumbai are open but Anil Garg, a member of the School Bus Owners' Association, said he "won't run school buses in Mumbai today, can't risk students' safety and security. Will take a second decision at 11 AM if we can run them in the second half, depending on the situation."

Several members of Parliament issued adjournment motions to protest the Bhima-Koregaon violence, reported Indian Express. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge issued notice under Rule 56 in the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of Parliament, while MP Rajni Patel moved it under Rule 267 in Rajya Sabha, the Upper House, according to the report.

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