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RPI activists calls for a protest all over Maharashtra

Wednesday, January 03, 2018
By Manjiri Chitre and Priyanka Dhomse. Photograph by Santosh Gupta

Several BEST buses damaged in the riots, trains services hit all over Mumbai

Violent protests erupted in Mumbai, as an impact of the clashes that broke out between the Dalits and Marathas on the 200th Anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, resulting in the death of a young person and several persons being injured. The members of the Republic Party of India (RPI) are protesting all over Maharashtra, and demanded a 'Maharashtra Bandh' today.

From rail roko andolans, to protests all over the streets in the city, the Dalit organisations forced people to shut down their shops. “The Maratha community attacked our people. For the deceased person, as well as for all the other victims, we have staged this protest. We demand a Maharashtra Bandh tomorrow,” said Prakash Kamble, who belongs to the Dalit community.

Several Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) have been damaged during the protests in some parts of Mumbai, including Mulund, Kurla, Worli, Deonar, Chembur, Marol, Bandra, Ghatkopar, and Kumbharwada. The protesters have damaged the buses by breaking glasses and punctured the tyres. According to a Senior BEST official, who does not wish named, “Around 20 buses have been damaged during the riots. However, no one has been injured.” Further, sources claimed that the management will hold discussions about the renovation of the buses shortly.

During the protests in the Matunga area, the protestors got violent with the shopkeepers who were refusing to shut their shops for the day. A shop owner at King's Circle, Nirmala Maru said weeping, “Whatever the political parties are doing is completely wrong. They are hurting the innocent. Why should we shut shops?”

However, the protestors did not stop. “We want this to reach to the higher authorities. And if the CM or any other higher authorities do not take action, the consequences of this protest may turn out to be worse,” said Vatsala Hire, a member of the Republic Party of India (RPI).

Series of 'rail rokos' on Harbour Line by RPI protesters
Even the local commuters were affected due to the violence, as the group of protesters also attempted 'rail rokos' at Chembur and Govandi railway stations affecting the schedule of local trains on the Harbour Line.

According to sources, RPI activists tried to enforce a series of 'rail rokos' on Harbour Line stations. They started by blocking a local train at Chembur the station around 11.45 am. This lasted for almost 30 minutes, delaying the running of local services on the Harbour Line. 'Rail rokos' were also attempted at the Gowandi station, while train services on the Central Railway, Main and Trans-Harbour lines were running normally. “Only Harbour Line is affected.

However, we are running special services on the line between CSMT-Kurla and Mankhurd, and Vashi-Panvel. We request the commuters to not believe rumours,” said Sunil Udasi, Cheif Public Relations Officer, Central Railway.

The protestors managed to enforce a 'rail roko' at Govandi station around 1.30 pm. The situation was brought under control within half an hour and railway officials restored traffic by 4.40 pm. “However, after 4.00 pm, flow was disrupted again, as the protesters attempted 'rail rokos' at Tilak Nagar and Chembur stations. The situation was controlled within a short time by both RPF and GRP officials,” added Udasi.

The major problems were seen in the areas near Chembur as protesters damaged BEST buses and the roads at Amar Mahal Junction and PL Lokhande Marg were blocked. Even in Thane, the RPI protesters stood for a 'raasta roko' in the Kopri area between Thane and Mulund. The protest lasted for 10-15 minutes, blocking the traffic. However, the crowd was immediately brought under control by the local police and traffic police teams.

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