Sitting judge to probe Mumbai violence over old battle anniversary

Policemen on guard after violence broke out during celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, in Pune on Tuesday. PTI picture.

Mumbai, Jan. 2 (PTI): The suburbs of India’s financial capital were rocked by violence following the death on Monday of a man at an event near Pune to mark the 200th anniversary of a battle in which English soldiers using Dalit troops had defeated a Peshwa.

Right-wing outfits protested on Monday the decision to mark the Bhima-Koregaon battle’s anniversary, since the East India Company’s forces had defeated a Maratha ruler.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday a judicial inquiry has been ordered into the violence that erupted during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district.

“A sitting High Court judge will head the inquiry,” Fadnavis said, a day after a youth died when a group opposed to the celebrations since it was a “British victory”, clashed with Dalits on their way to the battle memorial.

The government will give a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of th youth killed, Fadnavis said. The state’s Criminal Investigation Department will probe the death.

The violence sparked off protests in various parts of the state on Tuesday, including in Mumbai’s Chembur, where protesters blocked suburban train services, the lifeline of the city.

The Central Railway suspended suburban services between Kurla and Vashi on its Harbour corridor and was running special services between CSMT-Kurla and Vashi-Panvel section.

Angered over the youth’s death, several groups of people had hit the streets on Tuesday of Chembur, Vikhroli, Mankhurd and Govandi, and forced shops and establishments to shut down, an official said.

The protesters stopped local train services at the Govandi and Chembur railway stations of the Harbour Line.

Fadnavis appealed for calm, saying Maharashtra is a progressive state that does not believe in casteist violence.

Strict action would be taken against those who use social media to spread rumours, he said and appealed to political parties to refrain from saying anything that would fuel tensions.

”Around three lakh people had gathered (for the battle anniversary celebrations). Some people tried to create a serious scene. But six companies (of security personnel) were posted. Police promptly controlled the situation and averted a major problem,” Fadnavis said.


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