MUMBAI: The Maharshtra bandh called by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar on Wednesday, crippled the road and rail traffic in Mumbai. The bandh, which was in protest against the caste clashes in Pune last week on the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, was withdrawn around 4.30 pm.
During the day, the suburban railway network saw 29 instances of rail-roko protests by Dalit activists. Protesters blocked all highways and arterial roads of the city and vandalised 48 BEST buses. Metro services were partially shut from Ghatkopar station and Airport road between 11.45 am to 5 pm.
Many people rescheduled their flights and long-distance trains too were delayed for hours. More than 40 cars and auto rickshaws were attacked in Vikhroli and Govandi area. Some auto drivers were dragged out of their vehicles and thrashed by the mob. There were also reports of shops being attacked in some localities in Chunabhatti and Chembur. BEST, Metro and Railways had to stop their services because of the violence. Many Mumbaikars complained that the Google Maps app, which shows traffic updates, was temporarily unavailable due to which commuters had difficulty in choosing their commute routes.
Central Railway (CR) said they had 110 cancellations on Wednesday but sources revealed that the number touched a shocking 400 services.
According to a CR official, “We saw 400 cancellations and even more delays. So we do not even know how to put it on record as we have never seen such a high number of rail rokos in a day.”
The first rail-roko was seen at Thane station around 7.45 am and was resolved at 8.30 am.
The second rail-roko was seen on the Harbour Line at Juinagar station from 11.20 am to 11.40 am. Fifteen Central Railways stations saw protests but the biggest rail-roko on this line was between Thane and CSMT and lasted for more than three hours as many stations in between like Kanjurmarg, Ghatk-opar made it impossible to continue services.
Western Railway (WR), on the other hand, saw the longest rail-roko of the day, clocking almost four hours at Goregaon and Malad stations from 8.53 am to 1.38 pm. WR saw 15 rail-rokos throug-hout the day
The most violent train rail roko was seen at Kanjur Marg, where commuters pelted stones and finally unhinged the steel benches placed on platforms and threw them on to the track.
Around 15 long-distance trains were delayed by two to three hours on CR while two long distances were hit on WR.
Arterial roads like Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Link-Road (JVLR), Sion-Panvel Highway, S. V. Road, Eastern Expres-sway, Western Express-way and spots like Kala Nagar-Bandra, Dahisar, Worli Naka and MMRDA junction were blocked by the protestors.