Buses stoned during Maharashtra bandh over CAA-NRC; 1 injured

Mumbai/Solapur/Pune: Stray incidents of stone pelting were reported from parts of Maharashtra on Friday during the statewide 'bandh' called by Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar's party against the CAA and the NRC, but normal life remained largely unaffected, officials said.

A bus driver was injured in stone pelting in Mumbai.

The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) called for the statewide shutdown to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and also over economic issues.

Speaking to reporters as he called off the shutdown at around 4 pm, VBA leader Ambedkar said the 'bandh' received "good response" from traders and office-goers in Mumbai and that it was "peaceful" across the state.

He said some people who engaged in stone pelting or vandalism during the bandh were not attached to the VBA and they were members of other organisations.

Ambedkar said police lathi-charged VBA workers in Vidarbha's Amravati, but later released the supporters after the cops realised that the action was "wrong".

In Palghar adjoining Mumbai, he alleged some Bajrang Dal activists forcibly tried to re-open shops during the shutdown period.

"The protest was held peacefully in rest of the Maharashtra. We were able to convey the message against CAA, NRC and NPR. It is affecting Muslims as well as Hindus...Plus, the country's economy has collapsed, we are on the cusp of bankruptcy. We were able to highlight it," Ambedkar said.

He said around 3,000 VBA workers were detained across the state since Thursday night and added the his party has requested the police to release the demonstrators as they did not engage in vandalism.

He also claimed that around 100 political and social organisations apart from labour unions supported the bandh.

Earlier in the day, the driver of a BEST (civic undertaking) bus suffered injuries after stones were pelted on the vehicle in Mumbai's eastern suburb of Chembur, an official said.

The incident took place at around 9.15 am when some unidentified persons pelted stones at the bus heading towards Kurla station on route number 362, said a spokesperson of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).

Its driver, Vilas Dabhade, was wounded and rushed to Shatabdi Hospital in suburban Govandi, he said, adding no harm was caused to any of the passengers.

Suburban and outstation trains on both the Central and Western Railways in Mumbai, Metro, monorail services, taxis and auto-rickshaws were plying normally in the financial capital.

"There have been no reports of any attempt to stop taxis from plying," taxi union leader AL Quadros said.

Tight security was in place at all train stations and no untoward incident has been reported till now, a Railway official said.

Stray incidents of stone pelting on city buses were also reported from Solapur and Aurangabad districts, police said.

In Solapur, two unidentified men pelted stones at a city bus near Budhwar Peth, damaging its windshield, an official said.

"Two unidentified persons pelted stones at a city bus at around 9 am, damaging the windshield," an officer attached to the Faujdar Chawdi police station said.

In Aurangabad city, a bus of the local municipal corporation was pelted with stones by unidentified persons in the morning, but no injuries were reported, officials told.

A phone call regarding the stone pelting incident was received at around 7.25 am by the police, they said.

Later, a complaint was filed in the Vedantnagar police station of Aurangabad in central Maharashtra, the officials said.

The bandh was peaceful in other parts of the Marathwada region, they said.

The bandh received a lukewarm response in Pune and Ahmednagar districts, where public transport remained largely unaffected, while commercial establishments and schools were open.

A group of 20 to 24 people tried to block a road near Dandekar Bridge on Sinhagad Road in Pune, but were soon dispersed, officials said.

In another incident in Pune, a group of people stopped four to five civic buses on Dandekar Bridge but were quickly scattered, said Anant Waghmare, head of the traffic department at Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd.

"Our all operations are going on smoothly and there is no report of any untoward incident," he added.

The police had issued notices to some of the people from the party after the bandh call was given, Kamble claimed.

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