Buddhist Monk’s Death Sparks Violence in Govandi


  • Police book builder, 3 others for murder; some areas in city tense

Mumbai, Jan 8 (mb): A mob of at least 10,000 protestors, mostly Buddhist monks and their supporters, went on the rampage at Govandi to protest the death – under suspicious circumstances — of one of their religious leaders, Buddha Bhante Bhadhant Sanghraj the Maha Thero, on Sunday.

The mob damaged at least nine BEST buses, burnt down a car and a bike, and pelted stones at trains in the neighbouring Govandi and Mankhurd stations. Police resorted to a lathi-charge to disperse the mob and later imposed a curfew.

The Maha Thero, 75, was found hanging at his home at Gautam Nagar with a pool of blood on the floor. Initially it appeared a case of suicide but preliminary police investigations indicated there were bruises on the Maha Thero’s neck and torso.

Residents said the Maha Thero was at loggerheads with a builder AH Lakdawala over a piece of land measuring over 12,000 sq m. the Maha Thero, they said, had led an agitation against the builder and even obtained a stay order to stall construction of a building under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme.

The police have registered a case of murder against the builder, Lakdawala, and three others Manohar Jadhav, Vijay Kolekar and Arun Kamble.

At Govandi, tension was palpable right from the time the Maha Thero’s body was found hanging at 10 am when a local vendor went to his home, where he lived alone, to deliver his morning cup of tea.

The residents gathered soon near the Deonar Abattoir and began pelting stones at BEST buses, after making the passengers get down. Lakdawala’s office in the vicinity too was vandalised.

As the day wore on, the trouble began spreading to various parts of the city, with reports of stone-pelting and unrest coming from Dadar, Kandivili, Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri (east), Bandra and Thane. In Lokhandwala and Bandra, shops were forced to shut down by mobs, while some were vandalised.

By late evening, the situation seemed to have been brought under control by the police though areas like Govandi and Worli were tense.


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