Maharashtra bandh called off by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader, Prakash Ambedkar

Following violent protests in Mumbai and Pune, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of legendary BR Ambedkar, called off the Maratha Bandh after a day of high tension in Mumbai. The state-wide bandh was called by the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader yesterday, after the death of a 28-year-old man during January 1 Bhima Koregaon celebrations in Pune. The celebrations and the subsequent death saw mass protests in Mumbai with Section 144 imposed in Thane.

Ambedkar reportedly called the bandh a success after protestors took to the streets attempting road blockade. Trains were delayed as activists jumped on railway tracks, shouted slogans and waved flags to attempt rail blockades in Thane and Palghar districts.

"Unlike those in other states, we in Maharashtra have been responsible. We have not done drastic acts. But despite this, the exploitation of our community has continued. The Peshwa Raj has not ended. Ekbote should be charged with murder. We will protest until that's done. We are not resorting to any sort of violence but are co-operating with the police. We want our voice to be heard," said Nitin Dinkar Shelar, 40, a social worker from Pune.

School buses refused to ply while BEST (Bombay Electric Supply And Transport) buses ran as usual through the city with Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses in some sensitive districts suspended. Internet service was temporarily stopped in the city of Aurangabad and the Aurangabad University examinations had to be rescheduled. Mumbai’s famous dabawallas too halted service for the day.

The protests today comes after the January 1 celebrations turned into a violent protest across Mumbai and Pune gripping both cities in fear and confusion. Dalit organizations celebrating the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district faced fiction from right wing elements in Maharashtra leading to death of one. So far two right-leaders have been booked for causing violence. Nine people have been detained by the Pune rural police in the Bhima Koregaon riot case.

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