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Indian caste protests hit Mumbai

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    Agence France-Presse

Mumbai, India | Wed, January 3, 2018 | 08:05 pm
 Indian caste protests hit Mumbai Republican Party of India (RPI) supporters walk during a protest in the streets of Mumbai on January 3, 2018. India's Republican Party supporters took part in a protest all over the city on Jan. 3, after the death of a young Dalit activist in Maharashtra's Pune district following an altercation between two groups during celebrations to mark the bicentenary of a British-Peshwa war. (Agence France -Presse/PUNIT PARANJPE )

Demonstrators from India's lowest caste blocked roads and railways across Mumbai on Wednesday in protest against violence involving Hindu nationalist groups at an event commemorating a 200-year-old battle.

Members of the Dalit community obstructed roads, damaged buses and marched down railway tracks, delaying train services which are the lifeline of India's bustling financial capital.

Some schools and business opted to close as a precaution while the city's famous lunchbox delivery men, called "Dabbawalas", also cancelled their services.

The protests came in response to violence which broke out at a ceremony in a village near Pune in Maharashtra state on Monday, leaving one man dead.

Dalits had gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in 1818, in which they helped British colonial forces defeat the high-caste Peshwas.

Dailt leaders accused right-wing Hindus of inciting Monday's clashes, which spread to other areas of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital.

The state government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the clashes.

Mumbai police said more than 100 demonstrators had been arrested and nine cases of unlawful activity had been registered. 

On Wednesday politicians called for a peaceful end to the violence.

"There is an attempt to create a social divide which we have to foil unitedly," said Neelam Gorhe, a leader of the right-wing Hindu party Shiv Sena.

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