The ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra has called for a state bandh on Monday, October 11, to protest against the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in Uttar Pradesh last week in which eight people, including four farmers, lost their lives.
The bandh has been called by the three ruling allies of the state - Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Congress, which started from Monday midnight, India Today reported. The MVA allies have urged the people of the state to support the shutdown call.
All shops in Maharashtra, except those dealing with essential services, will remain shut till 3 pm on October 11, the government said. However, the government made it clear that the bandh is not state-sponsored but called by the parties.
According to Mint, more than 2,000 traders dealing with fruits, vegetables, grains, onions, potatoes, flowers, etc with support the shutdown call in solidarity with farmers who play a significant role in their sector, Rohan Ursal, secretary of the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Market Yard Adate (Traders) Association said. Various trade organisations in Pune have also expressed their support for today's Maharashtra bandh called by the ruling party.
In a press statement, the Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) also said that it will keep shops shut till 4 pm in support of the bandh called by the ruling coalition government.
Transport services are also likely to be hit in Pune city as rickshaw unions have decided to not ply their vehicles during the shutdown duration "Our organisation and several other transport groups will be supporting the bandh call," said Rickshaw Panchayat functionary Nitin Pawar.
Mumbai Police has decided to deploy the maximum manpower at their disposal on the city roads to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident during the state bandh.
"Three companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), 500 Home Guard personnel and 400 men from the Local Arms units are already deployed for the ongoing Navratri festival security. But, due to the bandh call, Mumbai Police will deploy its maximum men to tackle any untoward situation. Police bandobast will be on streets on Monday," an official said.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said his party would observe "maun vrat" (vow of silence) outside the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai protesting against the deaths.
NCP minister Nawab Malik said that the party members of the coalition government are also meeting citizens and asking them to express their solidarity with the farmers. The party called the Modi-led BJP government "oppressive" and demanded the resignation of union minister Ajay Mishra-whose son Ashish was arrested in connection to the violence.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Nitesh Rane has warned the Maharashtra government not to shut shops by force. "If shopkeepers are 'forced' to close shops tomorrow by any of the MVA karyakartas, then they will have to face BJP karyakartas! Police should ensure no one is forced or else there will be a law and order situation which is not our responsibility," Rane tweeted.
On October 3, four farmers died after being knocked down by vehicles reportedly carrying BJP workers. Following the incident, an angry mob attacked the people in these vehicles. Four others, including BJP workers and a journalist, were also killed in violence triggered by the deaths of farmers.
On Saturday night, police arrested Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri in connection with the violence.
The Supreme Court had also pulled up the Uttar Pradesh Police for not doing their job properly.