Maharashtra Bandh: Flight operations at Mumbai airport were badly hit yesterday due to the Maharashtra-wide protest called by various Dalit groups, with 33 flights, 32 of them from Jet Airways, getting cancelled. Besides, as many as 377 flights, both flying into andout of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), which is the world’s busiest single-runway airport, were delayed. The shutdown, called to protest the state’s “failure” to stop violence against celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district on Monday, disrupted normal life across Maharashtra, including Mumbai. The shutdown was called off by late evening. “A total 33 flights were cancelled at the Mumbai airport. Of these 32 flights were from Jet Airways and one from Indigo,” said an official of the Mumbai airport, which also is the second busiest airport in the country after Delhi. Of the 32 flights cancelled by Jet Airways, 16 were to depart and the rest arriving flights, the official added. “As the unrest escalated, crew members of some airlines reported late, while a few of them could not reach the airport on time which lead to these cancellations,” the official said, without sharing the number of flights which were impacted due to the protests.
However, according to a website that tracks real-time flight status at airports across the world, as many as 277 departures and 98 arrivals were delayed till 2133 hours. The spokesperson also said the arriving passengers were stranded at the airport, despite the airport arranging BEST buses for them, as buses were stopped by protesters from coming to the airport. Since the impact of the strike was felt across the city, the airport undertook several steps to ensure that passengers were least affected, an airport spokesperson said. Anticipating that the protest may aggravate, the airport activated its contingency plan by getting BEST buses in as most cab operators and autorickshaws remainded off the road, creating more inconvenience to passengers.
After some stone pelting were reported from parts of Mumbai’s Andheri, the bus services were discontinued, forcing many passengers to stay back at the airport itself. Following this the airport offered refreshments to stranded passengers. The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar had called for the shutdown to protest against the state’s “failure” to stop the violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district on Monday. The event to mark 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, in which forces of the East Company defeated Peshwa’s army, was marred by incidents of violence in which a passerby was lynched.