Protests by Dalit communities broke out in Mumbai on the Sion-Panvel highway and Amar Mahal junction, resulting in a massive traffic jam and shops being shut. This comes a day after the death of a person that took place during a clash between two groups during the celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
The Mumbai police, however, has dispelled the rumours of an alleged bandh and has urged everyone to not believe in rumours. Traffic is moving, while Chembur Naka is still jammed, according to the police.
At around 2pm demonstrators blocked traffic at the Sion-Panvel highway and marched towards Ambedkar Garden when the police stopped them. Protesters started a rasta roko andolan (block roads campaign) at the Amar Mahal junction in Chembur. The protest disrupted the traffic and protesters asked shopkeepers to shut down their shops. Therefore, fearing the violence, many shops in the area shut down. Many shops in Powai, Mulund, Mankhurd, Bhandup and Govandi are shut. Buses were also pelted with stones.
The protests are a reaction to what happened on January 1, 2018 when thousands had gathered 30 kilometers away from Pune near the 'vijayastambh' (victory pillar) at Koregaon Bhima to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima. The battle was won by the British army, comprising mostly of Mahar soldiers, defeating the Brahmin Peshwa-led Maratha Empire in 1818.
Reportedly, violence broke out as group carrying saffron flags started pelting stones at the cars going towards Bhima Koregaon village. Soon, clashes between the two groups resulted in the death of one Dalit and five people being injured.