Teen killed in pruned bandh

A teenager was trampled to death during Wednesday's Maharashtra bandh that was cut short by around two hours after some participants felt that the objectives of channelling Dalit rage and drawing attention to a New Year's Day attack were met.

By Our Bureau and PTI in Mumbai
  • Published 4.01.18
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STOPPED IN THEIR TRACKS: Bandh enforcers block traffic on both sides of the Western Express Highway in Mumbai on Wednesday. Hundreds blocked the highway in the morning but were chased by police later.  Road blockades, arson and stone-pelting were reported from several parts of Mumbai. Dabbawalas, the famed tiffin carriers, chose not to provide their services during the day. Film and TV serial shoots were also affected. (PTI picture)

Mumbai: A teenager was trampled to death during Wednesday's Maharashtra bandh that was cut short by around two hours after some participants felt that the objectives of channelling Dalit rage and drawing attention to a New Year's Day attack were met.

PTI reported that the 16-year-old boy was part of a mob that blocked a road in Nanded, 570km from Mumbai, and was crushed to death while escaping police.

As police chased the demonstrators, the teenager, Yogesh Jadhav, too, ran. But he lost his balance, fell on the road and was trampled by the others, an officer claimed. Another officer said the protesters alleged that Jadhav died in a police lathicharge.

By the time the bandh was withdrawn a little after 4pm, the life of tens of thousands of Mumbaikars had already been disrupted.

The bandh was called mainly by Ambedkarite groups demanding action against suspected "Hindutva" forces who on Monday attacked some of those who visited the site of a Dalit-driven, British colonial-era victory over the upper caste Peshwas 200 years ago.

The bandh, originally planned from dawn to dusk, was called off at 4.15pm by B.R. Ambedkar's grandson Prakash although the key demand - the arrest of the Hindutva leaders - is yet to be met.

The protesters have demanded the arrest of 85-year-old Sambhaji Bhide, a former physics professor and "Hindutva" activist whom Narendra Modi had referred to as "Guruji" in 2014, and former BJP councillor Milind Ekbote for allegedly inciting the attacks.

Harshali Potdar of the Samta Vidyarthi Aghadi in Mumbai, which participated in the bandh, told The Telegraph that the twin objectives of channelling Dalit rage into non-violent protest and spreading awareness of the attack on January 1 were achieved.

"Yesterday (Tuesday), anger spontaneously poured onto the streets and we called for a bandh to show the State that we are not satisfied with their process. If we hadn't called a bandh, the protests would have gone in a direction none could control.... TV was neither showing the violence of January 1 nor the attack on Dalits on December 29. Now, the world knows," she said.

Prakash said: "The protest was peaceful and was held to express our anger. The people who have participated in the protest are not just Dalits."

CPM central secretariat member from Maharashtra, Ashok Dhawale, whose party supported the bandh, said it was essential to send out the message that it's not just Dalits who are angry. "An FIR has been lodged, but we want punitive action. The bandh was called off as our objective was to sensitise people and not hold them to ransom. They (the RSS) wanted caste polarisation, but today's bandh has shown that not one caste but the entire state has risen against them," he added.