Caste violence erupts in Maharashtra

Mumbai still tense; Ambedkar's grandson calls for bandh today

Caste violence erupts in Maharashtra

Violent protests erupted in several cities of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, on Tuesday following an altercation between two groups during the celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the Anglo-Maratha war at Bhima Koregaon in Pune district.

Late in the evening, Mumbai continued to be on the edge as massive security arrangements were put in place.

While Monday's violence was confined to Shirur taluka in Pune, where one person was killed and several injured, on Tuesday, it spread to major cities and districts of the state.

In Mumbai, protests broke out in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Powai, Mulund and Thane, after activists from various Dalit organisations came out in large numbers to protest against the death of a youth in Monday's violence.

As tension mounted, many shopkeepers downed shutters in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Amar Mahal junction and Mulund.

Activists blocked the roads disrupting traffic on the Eastern Express Highway and also squatted on tracks near Chembur on the Harbour line.

Two policemen were injured while a journalist managed to escape unhurt.

Carrying blue flags, the protesters raised slogans.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio, announced a probe by a sitting judge of the Bombay High Court into the incident, besides a CID inquiry.

"We have taken the issue seriously," Fadnavis said.

"Continue with your normal activities and do not believe in rumours," Director General of Police Satish Mathur told a TV channel.

In Pune, cases were registered against the chief of Hindu Ekta Aghadi Milind Ekbote and the head of Shivraj Pratishthan Sambhaji Bhide Guruji for inciting violence.

The two organisations had opposed the celebration of "British victory" in the battle against the Peshwas.

More than 300 vehicles were damaged, including 178 buses of the state transport corporation. Some vehicles were torched and tyres were burnt.

"Anti-social elements have done this with an intention to disturb peace," said Ramdas Athawle, Union minister of state for social justice and president of the Republican Party of India.

Jet Airways and Air India relaxed ticket cancellation rules for passengers.

Chairperson of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, has called for a Maharashtra bandh on Wednesday.

"It will be a peaceful protest," said Prakash, adding that the Maharashtra Democratic Front, Maharashtra Left Front and several other organisations have supported the bandh.

The CPM's Maharashtra state committee, too, has supported the bandh.

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