Thursday, 04 Jan, 7.09 am

Bhima Koregaon violence: Bandh forces public transport off road

The Maharashtra bandh called by various Dalit and leftist groups brought to a grinding halt almost all of Mumbai's transport systems, from local trains to buses to taxis, even auto rickshaws. Successive cancellations of trains and buses had a domino effect until the bandh was finally called off at around 5 pm.

Disruptions on the suburban locals, widely regarded as the lifeline of the city, started as early as 7.45 am as protestors blocked trains. The protests started in Thane, where several demonstrators, waving flags and shouting slogans; jumped on to the tracks.

On the Western Railway, protestors blocked train services at Borivli, Goregaon, and Virar stations simultaneously, forcing passengers to walk on the tracks.

Protestors, who came out in large numbers to register their anger over the clashes in Bhima-Koregaon, also made sure road traffic also came to a standstill at strategic points in the city.

"The train had to be stopped as huge crowd of around 50-70 people came on tracks. They climbed on the buffers of the train and waving flags," said a motorman who was on his way to Churchgate from Virar.

The recently inaugurated AC trains also bore the brunt of the bandh. The WR was to operate the AC local and first train was to run at 10.22 am from Virar. However the WR cancelled the AC service completely to protect the physical safety of the new rakes.

By noon, the central line also started taking a beating. With rail rokos at Vikhroli, Parel, Mansarovar, Thane, Chembur, Govandi, Mankhurd, Kalyan, Kanjurmarg, Ghatkopar , protestors blocked trains, damaged station property, display boards and metal chairs.

Officially, CR cancelled 110 services while WR cancelled 60 services. While there were cases of stone throwing, rail officials said there were no injuries.

Road transport was also affected as protestors went on a rampage, pelting stones at buses, private vehicles, and those owned by mobile aggregators. The taxi and auto rickshaw unions said that only 10-15 percent of the black-and-yellow transport modes were functional.

"At least 90 buses have been damaged by the mob who targetted the front window and also deflated tyres. Four of our staff were also injured," said a BEST official.