Mumbai: Bus services of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) were closed in Mumbai on Monday after incidents of stone pelting at some places here in the wake of the Maharashtra bandh called by three ruling parties in the state to protest the killing of four farmers in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district, officials said.
Nine buses, including one hired on lease, were damaged in areas like Dharavi, Mankhurd, Shivaji Nagar, Charkop, Oshiwara, Deonar and near Inorbit Mall here early morning, said a statement issued by BEST, which is the transport undertaking of the city civic body.
"The BEST administration has called for police protection and buses will be operated from all depots after reviewing the situation," the statement said. Suhas Samant, a leader of the BEST Kamgar Sena which is affiliated to the ruling Shiv Sena, in a video clip on Sunday appealed to all the BEST employees to support the bandh.
As the BEST buses and many of the traditional 'black-yellow cabs' remained off roads, there were huge crowds on suburban railway stations to commute by local trains, which were running as per schedule. The three allies - Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress - in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra have appealed to people to wholeheartedly support the bandh, which began at midnight, to express their solidarity with farmers.
In the morning, shops and other commercial establishments, barring those engaged in selling essential items, remained closed in Mumbai and neighbouring areas. Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders welfare Association said they decided to keep the shops shut for half-a-day in support of the bandh. "The shops will reopen from 4 pm onwards," Shah said.
Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut last week said his party will participate with full force in the Monday bandh in Maharashtra. He said it was necessary to wake people up against the "anti-farmer" policies of the central government. Eight people, including four farmers, died in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3.
The farmers died after being knocked down by vehicles reportedly carrying BJP workers, after which an angry mob allegedly lynched some people in these vehicles. On Saturday night, Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra was arrested by the police in Lakhimpur Kheri in connection with the October 3 violence.
NCP spokesman and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Sunday said the MVA demands that Union minister Ajay Misha be sacked.