The Central and Western Railways and the Mumbai Metro Rail ran seamlessly without disruptions yesterday during Maharashtra bandh, as the Indian Railways held their ground and prevented protesters from entering station premises. However, road transport was impacted as buses across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region adhered to the call for staying off the roads. Even taxis and autorickshaws were few and far between. With buses parked at depots, the BEST staff stayed in the rest rooms and canteens. Out of 3,000 buses, only 1,833 buses were operational at around 6.45 pm on Monday.
A night prior to the bandh, there were reports of buses being vandalised in Dharavi, Mankhurd, Shivaji Nagar, Charkop, Oshiwara and Deonar. BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said police protection was sought thereafter.
The Mumbai police detained over 200 people for staging protests and causing disruptions across the city. They were detained under the provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act and later allowed to go. The detentions were made at Cuffe Parade, DB Marg, Nagpada, Byculla, Worli, Dadar, Mahim, Dharavi, Kherwadi, Kandivali, Kurar, Kasturba and Samta Nagar police stations.
There was a marginal increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, though the Western Express Highway saw traffic jams in certain sections. A senior traffic police official said people took private transport to reach their workplaces.
The Andheri railway station, which is usually the centre of frenetic pace of activity every morning, was much quieter. The Nadco shopping centre across the west side of the station was closed all day and started coming to slow life only around 4 pm. Rajesh Maurya, who runs a textile shop there said all shops had supported the bandh. Business, however, was dull even after the shops opened in the evening, as public movement was limited due to transport being affected. Mohan Das, a roadside fruit vendor said the day reminded him of last year’s early lockdown. Though he started business after 5 pm, he said only an occasional customer came and that more swift business took place in an inner market nearby. The impact on public transport affected his business, he said.
The twin city of Mira-Bhayandar witnessed mixed response. While most establishments remained open in the west side of Bhayandar, shop owners on the east side and some pockets of Mira Road, including Hatkesh, Kashimira and Mira-Bhayandar Road, chose to down their shutters till late in the evening. Auto rickshaws were seen plying on the roads as usual and petrol pumps were open. A group of agitators squatted on the highway. However, traffic movement remained largely unaffected due to timely intervention of police personnel. While most lanes wore a deserted look, crowds could be seen near the Maxus Mall junction. Residents said commercial establishments in Bhayandar are shut on Mondays anyway.
The lifeline of Thane, its transport buses stayed off the road, adding to its citizens’ misery. However, some autorickshaws came to the rescue of those in dire need of transport. A video that went viral on social media showed a few Shiv Sainiks assaulting the auto drivers at Jambli Naka with sticks. Citizens took to the social media to blame the MVA government for a forceful bandh and assaulting common man.
Meanwhile, city NCP president Anand Paranjpe participated in the rally with the Sena and requested shopkeepers and vehicles to follow the bandh. The rally traversed the city, with Mayor Naresh Mhaske participating in it.
The shopkeepers in Ulhasnagar reportedly didn’t support the bandh. Local BJP MLA Kumar Ailani and corporators roamed around the market area, urging people to keep their shops open. “Many have faced loss of income during the pandemic and questioned the government as to who will pay out,” added Kalani.