The Mumbai Police registered 16 FIRs and detained over 300 people in connection with protests by Dalit groups during the day-long bandh yesterday against the Bhima Koregaon caste clashes, while Internet services were suspended in Kolhapur following tension in the district.
Over 200 buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation were damaged in attacks by protesters across the state during the bandh, MSRTC officials said. In Mumbai, 16 FIRs were registered at various police stations and more than 300 people detained, police said. In Kolhapur, the home district of social reformist late Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the protesters yesterday attacked 13 buses of the civic corporation, an official said.
The Kolhapur district police has suspended Internet services till midnight today as a precautionary measure, an official said.
Protests by Dalit groups were held in the district yesterday followed by counter-rallies led by Shiv Sena MLA Rajesh Kshirsagar.
In Parbhani district of Marathwada region, an office of the RSS was attacked yesterday, police said.
The agitators raised anti-RSS slogans, the Parbhani police said, adding no major damage to property was reported.
In Nilanga, the home town of state labour minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar in Latur district, around 40 two-wheelers and 10 to 12 four-wheelers were damaged by a mob, police said.
The bandh was called yesterday following violence in Pune district on January 1 when Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the forces of the British East India Company defeated the Peshwa’s Army.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community were part of the East India Company’s forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory is seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.
The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion.