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Violence broke out in Maharashtra after Dalit demonstrators who had gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle were reportedly attacked.
A 28-year-old civilian, identified as Rahul Babaji Pharangade, was killed, while several others were injured on 1 January, in incidents of stone-pelting and attacks on Dalits attempting to visit the Bhima Koregaon memorial situated some 40 kilometres from Pune.
On the afternoon of 3 January, Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar, Chairperson of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and the grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar, called off the Maharashtra bandh that had been called to protest the violence. He alleged that the Hindu Ekta Aghadi was responsible for the violence. Here is a brief timeline:
3 January: Road Blockades, Arson and Stone-pelting
As day broke on 3 January, Maharashtra reported calm, with some enquiring on social media if the situation had been bought under control.
However, protesters spilled out onto the streets of Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, and other areas.
Buses were halted and vandalised along the Eastern Expressway, the Western Expressway, parts of Thane, Nagpur, Mumbai, and Pune. The demonstration which started began as a ‘Rasta roko’, turned into stone-pelting, with mobs surrounding buses and autos, destroying property and setting fire to vehicles. Several passengers were hurt in the attacks.
Local Train Services Suspended
Around 9 am, protesters staged a rail roko at Thane and Goregaon railway stations among others, waving Ambedkarite flags and preventing the passage of trains till police officials cleared them away.
Following rail roko protests at Andheri, Goregaon, Borivali, and Dadar stations, just to name a few, Western Railways announced that it would suspend all local AC train services.
A total of 35,000 police personnel were deployed onto the streets of Mumbai.
How Many People Took Part?
The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, which Prakash Ambedkar represents, told reporters that nearly 50 percent of the state's population took part in the shutdown. Ambedkar, maintained that the bandh was peaceful.
Mumbai’s local train services are expected to function regularly by the end of 3 January, and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured that an inquiry would take place into the violence in Maharashtra.
2 January: Protesters Pelt Stones at Buses, Block Expressway
On 2 January, Dalit groups called for “rasta roko” protests in Bhima Koregaon, Aurangabad, and other parts of Maharashtra. Mumbai’s local train service between Chembur and Govandi was affected because of the protests, ANI reported.
According to reports, a group of Dalits were attacked by individuals carrying saffron flags, while en route the memorial venue.
(This is a developing story and will be updated with more details)