Bus services in Mumbai were disrupted on Monday during a statewide bandh in Maharashtra, which was held in protest against the violence that broke out on October 3 in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, reported The Indian Express. Shops were also shut in several other cities of the state.

The Maharashtra government, which is in alliance with the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, had called for the shutdown in solidarity with farmers.

Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violence during a protest against the Centre’s new agricultural laws on October 3 in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district. Farmer bodies have alleged that a vehicle which was part of Union minister Ajay Mishra’s convoy ran over the protestors. They have claimed the vehicle belonged to Ashish Mishra, the minister’s son.

On Monday morning, Shiv Sena workers blocked a road in Mumbai’s Chembur area and another one on the Pune-Bengaluru national highway in Kolhapur, reported the Hindustan Times. The police detained those blocking the road.

At least eight Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport buses have been vandalised in Mumbai since Sunday night, a spokesperson of the bus network said.

Maharashtra ministers Nawab Malik and Jayant Patil claimed that people were supporting the bandh, ANI reported. Malik, however, admitted that supporters of the bandh had hurled stones in some places, adding that such acts were not right.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the bandh was a “100% success”.

The government-run mandis or wholesale markets were also shut on Monday. Shiv Sena workers were patrolling streets in several cities to ensure that shops and other facilities do not remain open, NDTV reported.

Senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra minister Ashish Shelar accused the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party of having made “a business of shutdowns and extortions”, The Hindu reported.

By 3 pm on Monday, plywood, mobile repair and clothing shops had reopened partially, according to The Indian Express.

The Maharashtra Cabinet had on Wednesday passed a resolution expressing grief for the deaths in Lakhimpur Kheri. The state’s ministers had also observed silence in the Cabinet for two minutes to mourn the loss of lives.

Referring to this, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “ [For the] first time in history of independent India, those who have the responsibility of running law and order decide in the Cabinet meeting for bandh”, ANI reported.

Security measures have been increased in Mumbai due to the bandh on Monday, reported the Hindustan Times.

The police said it will ensure that no untoward incident occurs during the bandh and that strict patrolling will be conducted. Three companies of Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force, 500 Home Guards and 700 personnel from the local arms units will be deployed, reported the Hindustan Times.

Meanwhile, traders union Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association said that they have changed their decision to not support the bandh after requests from the Shiv Sena and other party leaders, reported NDTV.

“...we have decided to keep shops closed till 4 pm in support of the bandh call by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (a name used for the coalition government),” said Viren Shah, the chief of the traders body.

Earlier, the traders association had said it would not support the bandh as businesses were slowly going back to normal functioning after the Covid-19 shutdowns, and that the strike would hurt their income.

“We have suffered huge losses for the past 18 months due to lockdown,” Shah told NDTV. “In middle of the festival season when customers have started coming out to shop, let us do our business peacefully. We appeal to the government to allow retail businesses to remain open. We hope that shopkeepers are not harassed or forced to remain shut.”

The Lakhimpur Kheri case

Ashish Mishra has been booked on multiple charges, including murder and criminal conspiracy, in connection with the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. He was arrested late on Saturday night in the case and a court has sent him to 14 days of judicial custody.

Three people who were in the vehicle had also died in the violence. Two of them were reportedly BJP workers while the third person was said to have been employed by Ajay Mishra as a driver.

On Saturday, farmer leaders called for a “rail roko” demonstration on October 18 to protest against the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. Protesting farmers will also hold a “huge mahapanchayat” in Lucknow on October 26.

Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait on Saturday said that protestors will stop trains between 10 am and 4 pm on October 18.

Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav demanded that Ajay Mishra should be removed from the Union Cabinet, and alleged that he was protecting the culprits in the Lakhimpur Kheri case.