Malaysiakini News

Unrest in Mumbai as Dalits call for shutdown

Shakir Husain, Bernama  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Public buses were damaged, businesses were shut and traffic was disrupted in India's financial capital Mumbai on Wednesday after Dalit groups called for a shutdown in the state of Maharashtra to protest against caste violence.

The strike was organised after clashes between upper caste Hindus and Dalits in Pune, about 150 km from Mumbai, this week over the celebration of a 19th-century battle.

One man was killed in the Pune district when supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations clashed with the Dalit groups celebrating the 200th anniversary of the battle in which a British army dominated by Dalit soldiers defeated the forces of upper caste rulers in 1818.

Dalits on Wednesday held protests across Maharashtra, with normal life being severely affected in Mumbai, according to reports.

Schools were shut in many places and large gatherings were banned by police.

"Ninety-nine per cent of our buses are off the road in the state today for security reasons," Anil Garg, president of the School Bus Owners Association, was quoted as saying in the local media.

Offices in Mumbai's major commercial hubs witnessed low attendance as employees stayed away from work fearing violence, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The Mumbai Dabbawala Association, whose members deliver more than a quarter million lunches in tiffin boxes on a normal busy day, suspended their services.

The Indian parliament also witnessed heated exchanges between opposition and ruling party members over the Maharashtra violence.

- Bernama

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