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Maharashtra bandh: Mumbai, Pune worst hit as protests intensify

Mumbai and Thane were the worst hit as protests by the Dalit outfits over Koregaon-Bhima violence intensified on Wednesday.

Maharashtra bandh: Mumbai, Pune worst hit as protests intensify

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: The bandh called by Dalit outfits across Maharashtra to protest against Pune's Koregaon-Bhima violence has severely affected the normal life on Wednesday. As per reports, inter-state bus services have been affected, several BEST buses have been vandalised and metro rail operations have been blocked at various places in Mumbai. 

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According to reports, Mumbai and Thane were the worst hit as protests by the Dalit outfits intensified.

Meanwhile, Section 144 was imposed in Thane and security has been tightened in sensitive areas after Pune's Koregaon-Bhima violence spread to other parts of Maharashtra.

Today's Maharashtra bandh started with attempts to block suburban train services in Thane and Palghar and processions in Mumbai and elsewhere amidst tight security across the state.

Groups of Dalit activists jumped on the railway tracks, shouting slogans and waving flags to attempt a rail-blockade at Thane and Virar stations in Palghar, but were prevented by the security forces.

In Mumbai, colleges and schools opened as usual but school buses stayed off roads as a precaution. One private school bus was stoned in Chembur but there were no injuries.

Though many taxi-auto rickshaw unions have supported the shutdown, the city's lifeline, the suburban trains and the BEST (Bombay Electric Supply And Transport) buses services were plying near-normally. 

Some autos and taxis were seen plying in various areas, but the famed 'Dabbawalas' cancelled their services for the day.

Many shops and establishments also opened for work as usual in the city and suburbs and there were the familiar crowds on roads and highways.

The shutdown evoked a greater response in rural areas compared to urban pockets of Thane, Nagpur, Pune and other cities.

The coastal Konkan region reported a near-total shutdown, as also Dalit strongholds of Marathwada like Beed, Latur, Solapur, Jalgaon, Dhule, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Palghar.

Internet services were suspended in Aurangabad for the day.

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses in some sensitive districts have been suspended as a precaution after it suffered damages to 187 buses in Tuesday's violence.

The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, a Dalit party headed by Prakash Ambedkar - the grandson of Bharat Ratna BR Ambedkar, called for a 'peaceful Maharashtra shutdown' on Wednesday to express anger over the Pune incidents of January 1.

The shutdown call has elicited support from various Dalit parties, Leftist parties, some Maratha groups with the likelihood of other parties supporting it.

(With IANS inputs)