A nationwide bandh called by the NDA, Left parties and UPA’s outside supporter Samajwadi Party to protest the diesel price hike and FDI in multi-brand retail evoked mixed response on Thursday.
The bandh evoked good response in BJP-ruled Gujarat and Karnataka. Protesters blocked trains and road traffic in many areas in Bihar, West Bengal and UP. No major untoward incident was reported, but the bandh disrupted services of 238 trains across the country.
Peace in UP
With the ruling SP on agitation path, police made tight security arrangements to ward off trouble. The bandh crippled life in many urban areas, but evoked lukewarm response in semi-urban and rural pockets. IG (law and order) BP Singh said police used mild baton-charge at places to prevent mobs from blocking roads. In Sambhal, the SP district president Firoz Khan set his tractor on fire to protest the diesel price hike.
Violence in Kolkata
Though chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed the bandh had evoked lukewarm response, vehicles stayed off the road in many parts of West Bengal. The Left claimed people had spontaneously supported their bandh. Sporadic incidents of violence took place in different parts of Kolkata, where protesters blocked roads and disrupted bus services.
Life hit in Gujarat
Educational institutions, retail shops, malls, industrial units, banking operations and even transport almost came to a standstill in Ahmedabad. In Surat, the diamond and textile industry supported the bandh due to which markets and retail outlets connected to them remained closed. The shutdown evoked good response in Vadodara too.
Vehicles stay off roads in Karnataka
Shop and business establishments remained closed and vehicles stayed off the roads. Schools, colleges and several IT firms had declared a holiday. Government offices registered thin attendance. Former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa led the protests in Bangalore. He was arrested and later released on bail.
Train and vehicular traffic remained paralysed for the better part of the day. Nearly 77 trains were stopped across the state. In Patna, senior BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad led a bicycle march. Nearly 5,000 protesters from 26 districts were taken into preventive custody.