Pune’s Dalit protests reach Mumbai, riot police called in

Image Credit: NDTV

Dalits took to streets in Mumbai today to protest against Monday’s violence that took place near Pune. In pockets of the financial capital, police in riot gear were deployed as incidents of stone-pelting were reported.

Traffic was hit on the Eastern Express Highway near Mumbai, train services were affected, and a protester who was trying to set himself on fire, was saved just in time.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has warned people not to spread rumours on social media. He has also ordered a judicial inquiry into Monday’s clash, in which a man had died.

Shops and business establishments were shut and a journalist was attacked as groups of youths from Chembur, Vikhroli, Mankhurd and Govandi joined the protest, the police said.

The central railway suspended suburban services between Kurla and Vashi on its harbor corridor and is running special services between CSMT-Kurla and Vashi-Panvel section.

Traffic came to a standstill this morning at the Eastern Express Highway in Mumbai, which re-opened post-noon.

In a tweet, the police said, “Don’t believe in rumours. Traffic on Eastern expressway was affected due to protests. It’s moving now. Traffic at Chembur Naka is still affected. There is nothing to panic. Verify facts with police officers and men before posting anything on social media.”

On Monday afternoon, groups of Dalits, who were on way to an event near Pune city to mark 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon battle, were attacked and their vehicles were damaged.

The violence, which started after an argument and stone-throwing, soon spun out of control. A man died, 40 vehicles were damaged and less than half-a-dozen people were injured. The police said the deceased man belonged to an upper caste.

The police had to block traffic on Pune-Ahmednagar highway to prevent the situation from escalating, shut down Internet services and restrict movement of people before the situation was brought under control.

Dalits observe January 1 as “Vijay Diwas” to commemorate the battle fought in 1818, in which a Battalion of British East India Company comprising Dalits had defeated upper-caste Peshwa soldiers.


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