Nov 30 (IANS) Thousands of Dalits went on the rampage
in Maharashtra Thursday burning two trains and attacking
public and private transport to protest against the
desecration of a statue of Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar
as police firing claimed two lives in Nashik.
daylong violence, mobs stopped the Pune-bound Deccan
Queen train at Ulhasnagar, 135 km from here, and set
it ablaze after ordering passengers to disembark.
and a half hours later, another mob stopped a Mumbai-Karjat
point-to-point local train, also near Ulhasnagar, and
set four coaches - two in the front and two in the back
- on fire, also after asking the passengers to get off.
one was injured in either incident. Firefighters managed
to control the blaze from spreading to the whole of
Deccan Queen, a hugely popular and 77-year-old train
that plies daily between Mumbai and Pune.
firefighters rushed to the site of the second burning
train too. By then, however, leaping flames had destroyed
some of the coaches.
also erupted in several places in Maharashtra including
Mumbai. Buses and private vehicles were stoned in several
places in the country's financial capital including
Andheri, Santa Cruz, Worli, Khar, Mulund, Bandra and
Chembur, causing widespread confusion and panic.
rushed from one site to another to disperse the mobs,
making summary arrests. Authorities imposed curfew in
parts of the state.
sudden outburst of violence was sparked by Wednesday's
desecration of Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur in Uttar
Pradesh, scenes of which were beamed to all parts of
the country by television channels.
the news spread in Mumbai and other parts of Maharasthra
Thursday, Dalits - already furious over the killing
of a five-member family in Khairlanji in Nagpur district
- went on the rampage. Dalits regard Ambedkar, one of
the framers of the Indian constitution, as a virtual
Police Commissioner Himanshu Roy told IANS that the
situation "is tense and there are pockets of trouble
but it will be contained".
services were immediately suspended between Mumbai and
Pune, and also in Mumbai and in neighbouring areas including
spokesman I.K. Chari in New Delhi told IANS that the
railways had convened an emergency meeting to discuss
the situation in the wake of the train arson.
Thursday, the police opened fire at a mob in Nashik
killing a 23-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy. The
man died instantly while the boy succumbed to his injuries
in a hospital.
dependent on public transport were left stranded in
Mumbai in the wake of the violence. Most incidents took
place in suburban and central parts of Mumbai.
is total confusion because trains have stopped plying,"
a resident of Dombivili town in Thane district told
IANS. Electric trains are the lifeline of Mumbai and
its environs, transporting millions every day.
Director General of Police P.S. Pasricha told reporters
that the situation would be "under control by evening".
was natural for some reaction because of what happened
in Kanpur," he said. "The situation should
be under control by today evening."