At a protest by VBA workers in Mumbai on Friday. (Photo: Prashant Nadkar)
Stray incidents of stone pelting were reported from parts of Maharashtra and a bus driver was injured in Mumbai Friday during the statewide bandh called by Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar’s party against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC), but normal life remained largely unaffected, officials said. Eight persons were arrested in connection to violence reported in Ghatkopar and Pant Nagar areas of Mumbai.
Three cases were registered by Ghatkopar police and one by Pant Nagar police after groups of people allegedly stopped traffic and lobbed stones at public transport busses. “We have arrested eight persons in connection to these incidents,” a police officer said.
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Ambedkar told mediapersons the bandh received “good response” from traders and office-goers in Mumbai and that it was “peaceful” across the state. He claimed that some people who engaged in stone pelting or vandalism during the bandh were not attached to VBA.
The bandh was called off around 3 pm.
“The bandh was called to protest against BJP government’s CAA and NRC. The response was satisfactory... the bandh was successful. We ensured there was no violence or disruption to normal life,” Ambedkar said in Mumbai.
While claiming that 35 organisations and 100 outfits supported the bandh, Ambedkar said around 3,000 VBA workers were detained across the state since Thursday night. He also claimed that instances of violence reported from Ghatkopar, Thane, Solapur and other areas were not the handiwork of VBA supporters.
While at Ghatkopar, there were reports of stone pelting at Teen Hath Naka, at Amravati in Vidarbha, police resorted to lathicharge on protesters.
In Solapur, two unidentified men pelted stones at a city bus near Budhwar Peth, damaging its windshield, an official said. Driver of a BEST bus, Vilas Dabhade, suffered injuries after the vehicle was pelted with stones in Mumbai’s Chembur. A case has been registered.
In Aurangabad city, a bus of the local municipal corporation was pelted with stones by unidentified persons, but no injuries were reported, officials said.
“We had given clear instructions that law and order and normal life should not be disrupted. VBA workers did not indulge in violence. We suspect some outsiders tried to create problems. In Ghatkopar, the trouble makers had come with their faces covered. They ransacked a BEST bus and disappeared,” Ambedkar said.
In Palghar, he alleged, some Bajrang Dal activists forcibly tried to re-open shops during the shutdown.
“There is a general perception that CAA is against Muslims. But the fact is that CAA and NRC would affect a large number of Hindus too. They will also have problems in furnishing documents,” he added.
Suburban and outstation trains on both the Central and Western Railways in Mumbai, Metro, Monorail services, taxis and autorickshaws were plying normally in Mumbai. Tight security was in place at all train stations and no untoward incident was reported, a Railway official 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.
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 Limited.
(With PTI inputs)