Violence, destruction across India after deadly clashes

Violent clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups in India have led to the death of at least one person and injuries to several others, officials said Tuesday.

Indian policemen patrol near a damaged bus during a protest by Dalit people in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. Photo by Divyakant Solanki/EPA-EFE
Indian policemen patrol near a damaged bus during a protest by Dalit people in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. Photo by Divyakant Solanki/EPA-EFE

Dalits, also known as “untouchables,” are considered the lowest social status group among the Hindu caste system, a classification that divides Hindus in a hierarchy. Maratha are considered by some as champions of Hinduism.

Violence erupted in Pune Monday, during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon, a battle in 1818 in which a British Army comprised of Dalits defeated upper-caste Peshwas, who were leaders of the Maratha groups. Protesters on Tuesday sought action against those responsible for killing a man during the celebrations.

On Tuesday, protesters damaged buses and disputed rail traffic as the violence spilled over into the capital city of Mumbai.

Shops across the area shut down as violence spread and protesters blocked roadways, authorities said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis appealed for calm and ordered an inquiry into the death of the demonstrator killed Monday. Fadnavis also offered compensation to the family.

To protest against the government’s failure to stop the violence, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar called a “Maharashtra bandh” for Wednesday, a protest that would shut down government offices and shops across the state.

By Susan McFarland