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Violence erupts in Mumbai suburbs after clashes between Dalit Maratha in Pune

Tensions escalated in the Mumbai suburban district of Chembur on Tuesday a day after clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups broke out in Bhima Koregaon near Pune.

Reports quoting eyewitnesses said the commotion commenced at Chembur naka. The police reached the spot and brought the situation under control. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that a bus was stoned at during the protests.

Violence was also reported from Powai, Mankhurd, Bhandup, Govandi, Sion and Mulund where several shops were forced to pull down their shutters.

According to reports, some shops that stayed open were vandalised. Shops in Ghatkopar were also closed.

Police have been deployed at all the crucial areas and patrolling is on in the city to avoid any untoward incident.

Local train services were also affected on Harbour line between Chembur and Govandi due to agitation by the protesters.

Mumbai Police also tweeted about the traffic in the city, requesting citizens not to spread rumours.

On Monday, one person was killed in violence in an event to mark 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, where forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwa’s army.

Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community — then considered untouchable — were part of the East India Company’s forces.

However, some right-wing groups in Pune had expressed opposition to the celebration of `British’ victory.

Incidents of stone-pelting and vandalism occurred at Bhima Koregaon in Shiroor tehsil on Monday afternoon when people were heading for the war memorial in the village, police said.

A man died in the violence, a top police official told PTI late on Monday evening. However, his identity and how exactly he died is not known yet, the officer said.

The violence erupted after a local group and some members of the crowd on its way to the memorial, had an argument over some issue.

“Stone-pelting started after the argument. During the violence, some vehicles and a house in the vicinity were damaged,” a police officer deployed for security at Bhima Koregaon said without elaborating.

He said the police stopped traffic on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway for some time following the incident.

Mobile phone networks were also blocked for few hours to stop circulation of inflammatory messages.

The battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818. Some Dalit leaders and thinkers view its outcome as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale demanded police protection for Dalits in the wake of Monday’s violence.

“Dalit groups visiting Bhima Koregaon were stopped at Sanaswadi near Koregaon. Stones were hurled at them. No police force was available for their protection,” Athawale said in a statement.

He also appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to deploy additional police force in the village and provide protection to the members of local Dalit community.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered judicial enquiry for Bhima Koregaon incident and has also ordered a CID enquiry for the death of a youth and an assistance of Rs 10 lakh to kin of the victim who died on Monday.

He said strict action will be taken against all those who spread rumours and try to invoke violence.

Meanwhile, the situation in Pune remained under control on Tuesday with Section 144 still imposed in the area.

(With inputs from PTI)


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