The Maharashtra bandh called by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader and Dr B R Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar is being seen as a massive show of strength by Dalits in the state. According to political analysts Ambedkar had organised protests to display his power to BJP and show them that Dalits are united against the ruling government. By organising bandh they have also sent a stern message to Ramdas Athawale who has aligned with BJP that he can’t take them for granted. Rohit Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani had supported Ambedkar’s call for bandh. Ambedkar later called off the bandh and claimed that it was peaceful. He also demanded that police arrest Bhide Guruji and Milind Ekbote for inciting mobs against people who had gathered at Bhima Koregaon on January 1. Normal life came to a standstill in Mumbai due to the bandh as many people were unable to reach office as protestors disrupted vehicles at Western Express Highway and trains services were disrupted in the metropolis. Many schools and colleges were closed in the city.
Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson said, “The clashes were held to create a rift between Dalit and Marathas in the state. Since media had failed to give proper coverage to the Bhima Koregaon violence incident, hence bandh was called by Dalit outfits. If Ambedkar has called bandh to gain political mileage then it is unjustified as it has caused severe hardships to people. On the other hand, if he has announced the bandh to unite Dalits then it is right.”
Dilip Kamble, Minister of State for Social Justice said, “I condemn the violence incident and appeal to people to maintain peace. Such incidents have never happened in the history of Maharashtra. The Chief Minister has called for a judicial probe into this incident and action will be taken against the accused.”
Former Dy SP M I Shaikh said, “Maharashtra is a progressive state. The government must conduct a probe into this incident to identify miscreants responsible for violence. The police find it difficult to manage crowds and they have to undergo severe stress to bring situation under control during bandh.”
Ashok Jadhav, former Congress MLA said, “According to me, the Bhima Koregaon violence incident was pre-planned. The Maharashtra government had failed to beef up security prior to the event which resulted into violence. To counter that Maharashtra bandh was observed.”
Avinash Mahatekar, RPI leader said, “This bandh was organised as people were unhappy with the government’s inaction against atrocities committed against Dalits and there is no politics involved in it. A probe must be held to ascertain the reason behind why law and order situation had deteriorated in the state since last three days.”