Mumbai: Bus services were affected in Mumbai and adjoining areas on Monday and most shops and commercial establishments remained closed in view of a nationwide bandh called by three associates of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to protest the killing of four people. Farmers of Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh.
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST-the city’s civic body’s transport undertaking) buses and many traditional ‘kaali-peeli cabs’ stayed off the roads, leading to heavy rush at suburban railway stations for commuting by local trains, which were scheduled were running on time.
The three ruling allies – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – have appealed to the people to wholeheartedly support the midnight bandh to express solidarity with the farmers.
In the morning hours, shops and other business establishments remained closed in Mumbai, except those engaged in the sale of essential commodities.
While BEST bus services were affected due to the bandh, local trains, considered to be Mumbai’s lifeline, were running normally, but were packed with road commuters shifting to suburban train services.
“Our services are running as per schedule,” said Shivaji Sutar, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway.
According to transport union leaders, most of the black-and-yellow taxis and auto-rickshaws were off the roads in the metropolis.
AL Quadros, general secretary of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said, “Kali-yellow taxis are plying, but their numbers are very less. Taxi operations outside the city’s airport are unaffected.”
Metro rail services are also running normally in the city.
Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) officials said their buses from Mumbai to other places were plying as per schedule and no untoward incident was reported anywhere.
“Regional offices across the state have been informed to operate bus services in consultation with the concerned district administration and police after taking stock of the local situation,” an MSRTC official said.
Heavy police force was deployed in the state capital in view of the bandh.
Police personnel, including women, are patrolling every area of the city and no untoward incident has been reported so far, a police official said.
Additional traffic police were deployed on city roads, where most people were seen traveling in private vehicles.
Several senior police officers were seen walking to the ‘settlement’ points.
Additional police force was also deployed at railway stations.
Mumbai Police had earlier said that they would deploy maximum manpower to the best of their capacity on the roads on Monday to prevent any untoward incident during the bandh.
An official said three companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), 500 home guards and 400 personnel from local arms units have been deployed as additional manpower for the security of the ongoing Navratri festival.
Shops and commercial establishments remained closed in the morning in neighboring Thane district and roads were deserted at many places.
Public buses remained off the roads, while some auto-rickshaws were seen plying at some places.
Heavy security has been deployed in Thane city, rural areas of the district, neighboring Navi Mumbai township and Palghar district, officials said.
Workers of ruling allies took out placards and banners in Thane city, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan and Vasai towns and raised slogans against the killing of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Local leaders were seen requesting traders to keep their establishments closed at some places.
The Thane Small Scale Industries Association in a release condemned the killing of farmers, but said the industry and small traders were not in favor of the bandh as they were already facing losses due to restrictions related to COVID-19.
Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said last week that his party would take part in Monday’s bandh in Maharashtra with full force.
He said that it is necessary to awaken the people against the “anti-farmer” policies of the central government.
On October 3, eight people, including four farmers, were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Farmers were killed after they were hit by vehicles allegedly carrying BJP workers, following which some people in these vehicles were allegedly thrashed to death by an angry mob.
On Saturday night, Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was arrested by the police in connection with the October 3 violence in Lakhimpur Kheri.
NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Monday said that the MVA demands the sacking of Union minister Ajay Misha.