On the day of a statewide strike or ‘bandh’, Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane remained on the edge. Protest marches and sit ins were held by members of the Dalit and Bahujan community. While most protests were peaceful, there were reports of sporadic incidents of disruptive activities.
In Mumbai, protesters and activists held a ‘rail roko’ and jammed rail services on the Western line near Goregaon and Central line between Ghatkopar and Thane. The AC local service was cancelled by railway authorities fearing destruction of public property. Very few trains were running on the Harbour line. A long stretch of the Eastern Express highway was also blocked by protesters causing traffic to be diverted to interior roads. Bus services were disrupted in Andheri and protestors gathered in Adarsh Nagar blocked large swathes of roads.
Shops remained shut in Navi Mumbai and Thane. However, pharmacies and medical stores remained open. TMT and NMMT buses could not be seen plying given how a few buses had been damaged in protests on Tuesday. Even autorickshaws were not plying on any of the main roads or highways, choosing instead to stay and ferry passengers in interior neighbourhoods.
Pune saw several protests including one outside the house of Milind Ekbote, key accused in inciting violence against the Dalit community gathered at Koregaon Bhima on January 1. A sit in protest was also held at Dandekar circle. There was heavy police deployment and several companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) were also pressed into service to maintain law and order.
Section 144 that prevents an assembly of three or more people was applied in Thane and Pune.
(With Special Input by Saadia Samdani)
Image Courtesy: Saadia Samdani