Dalit protests against violence in Pune spilled to Mumbai

Vastavam web: Several towns and cities in Maharashtra were on edge today as Dalit protests against yesterday’s violence in Pune spilled over to capital Mumbai, with agitators damaging scores of buses, and disrupting road and rail traffic, officials said.Clashes between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district had left a man dead yesterday.Over 160 buses were damaged in Mumbai by rampaging protesters over 100 of whom were detained, police said.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Bombay High Court into the Pune violence, and appealed for calm. He said it needed to be ascertained if there was a conspiracy behind yesterday’s violence.Fadnavis said a Rs 10 lakh compensation would be given to kin of the youth killed and his death would be probed by the CID.Dalit groups were celebrating the bicetenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle which the forces of the British East India Company had won over those belonging to the Peshwa.

Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community – then considered untouchable – were part of the East India Company’s forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory was seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.In Mumbai, protesters disrupted road traffic in the suburbs and local train services on the Harbour Line. They blocked roads in several areas, forced shops to shut down, and also attacked a journalist of a television news channel.Protests were also held in Kolhapur, Parbhani, Latur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Hingoli, Kolhapur, Nanded and Thane districts, police said.

Heavy security was deployed in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai.The Mumbai police, meanwhile, issued a statement appealing to people not to believe in rumours and verify facts with the police before posting anything on social media.Maharashtra minister of state for home Deepak Kesarkar today visited Bhima-Koregoan and neighbouring villages and said the situation was under control.”Since the administration did not take precautions, rumours and misunderstanding spread. A youth in Nanded died unfortunately. People from political and social field should defuse the situation harmoniously and patiently without making provocative speeches,” the former Union minister said.

Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan condemned the violence and urged people not to believe in rumours.Antisocial elements were trying to create tensions between Dalits and Maratha communities for political benefit, he said.