MUMBAI: Amid call for a shut-down across Maharashtra given by Dalit leaders to protest the violence during the bicentennial celebration of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, civic buses were again targeted in Mumbai today.
Thirteen buses of the civic transport service 'BEST' were damaged by protesters in Kalanagar area (Bandra), Dharavi, Kamraj Nagar, Santosh Nagar, Dindoshi and Hanuman Nagar, an official from the Disaster Management Unit of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.
The city had witnessed a major disruption of road traffic owing to protests in the eastern suburbs yesterday.
Suburban trains were running normally today morning though activists tried to stage blockades on tracks at Thane on the Central line and Goregaon on the Western line, railway officials said.
Mumbai's famed tiffin carriers, Dabbawalas, chose not to provide their services today.
Mahesh Narvekar, senior official from the civic body's Disaster Management Unit, had said earlier that the BEST buses will not run on some sensitive routes including Kandivali-Akurli, Dindoshi-Hanuman Nagar, Chandivali-Sangharsh Nagar, Khairani Road-Sakinaka, Sahar Cargo, Mulund Check Naka and Jijamata Nagar.
Anil Garg, president of the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA), told PTI, "99 per cent of our buses are off the road in the state today for security reasons. Only one or two per cent of buses are on roads."
"We have decided not to ply school buses in the first shift (during morning hours) today and if circumstances allow, we will run the buses in the second shift," Garg said.
"Since law and order situation is beyond our control, we cannot take risk," he added.
Some 40,000 school buses are affiliated to the SBOA in the state.
Garg also claimed that some school buses were damaged by protesters in Mumbai today, but police did not corroborate the claim.
Though the government has not declared a school holiday, many parents chose not to send children to school.
Vijay Shukla, a resident of suburban Vikhroli, said, "I have twop kids, both studying at a school in Vikhroli east. Though school was open today, I suggested they stay at home."
Offices in major commercial hubs too witnessed low attendance, as employees stayed away from work fearing violence.
Subhash Talekar, spokesperson of the Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, "Since most of our customers may find it difficult to reach office, we have decided to suspend our services today."
Dalit protesters descended on tracks at Thane and Goregaon stations in the morning.
"Few protesters tried to disrupt Railway services at Thane but were immediately cleared by the Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police. Services are running uninterrupted on Central Railway," said Sunil Udasi, chief spokesperson, Central Railway.
There were protests at Goregaon and Virar on the Western suburban line too. "Tracks have been evacuated of protesters and train services have been resumed at Virar and Goregaon from 9.05 am," Western Railway said in a tweet.
Mumbai Police today registered nine cases in connection with yesterday's violent protests. Over hundred people have been detained in the city since yesterday.