The bandh called by NDA, Left parties and SP to protest against diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap on subsidised LPG today evoked mixed response as protestors disrupted road and rail traffic in parts of UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha but it had little impact in Mumbai.
Though the response to the bandh was mixed, a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) release said that Thursday's bandh has been disruptive for business and trade in many parts of the country. The release further said that though an exact loss for the entire economy is not known, it can be estimated that almost Rs. 12,500 crores has been the loss to the country in terms of disruptions in production and trade.
In Delhi, most of the markets remained closed and vehicular movement was normal though protesters blocked traffic at some places. Shops in some areas like Bhogal, Laxmi Nagar, Defence Colony and South Extension in the capital were open in the morning hours but though big markets like Khan Market, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk and Kashmere Gate were shut. Auto rickshaws plied in the city and buses of state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) were on the roads in large numbers. At New Delhi railway station, auto drivers staged a protests and refused to carry passengers.
BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav CPI leader Sitaram Yechury, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and others during Bharat Bandh in New Delhi.
Most of the private schools in Delhi remained closed. BJP supporters blocked vehicular movement on Vikas Marg. A BJP spokesperson said the party will be staging protests at around 100 locations in the capital. A senior Delhi Police official said a large number of personnel have been deployed. "We have ensured that every major road has police presence," he said.
Samajwadi Party and BJP workers staged demonstrations and stopped trains at a number of places in Uttar Pradesh. Protestors stopped trains in Mathura, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad and Lucknow while BJP workers and traders blocked the Agra-Gwalior Highway by burning tyres.
Major markets remained closed at a number of places in UP, including in the state capital, official sources said in Licknow. Raising slogans against FDI in retail, a group of SP workers held a demonstration outside the Walmart store at Sultanpur in Lucknow. The party also protested outside Divisional Railway Manager's office in Hazratganj.
The bandh evoked little response in Mumbai owing to Ganesh festivities across Maharashtra. Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have kept away from the day-long bandh due to the festival.
BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad and CP Thakur have been detained in Patna for protesting against the government. Several other opposition leaders have also been derained.
Local commuter buses and metro rail services functioned normally on Thursday morning, despite a strike call by the opposition parties.
Auto-rickshaws also seemed to ply normally on the capital's streets. Some private schools had declared a holiday to avoid inconvenience to children.
At city markets, it was business as usual.
Delhi Police, however, have geared to meet the challenges that a bandh call might pose.
"In view of Bharat Bandh, police is ready to deal with any untoward incident," Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat told IANS.
Samajwadi Party and BJP workers on Thursday staged demonstrations and stopped trains at a number of places in Uttar Pradesh in support of the bandh called by them against FDI in multi-brand retail and hike in diesel prices.
Railway policemen stand near a burning effigy representing the government during a protest along railway tracks in Allahabad. AP Photo
Protestors stopped trains in Mathura, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad and Lucknow as part of their stir while BJP workers and traders blocked the Agra-Gwalior Highway by burning tyres.
Major markets remained closed at a number of places in UP, including the state capital, official sources said in Lucknow.
Raising slogans against FDI in retail, a group of workers held a demonstration outside the Walmart store at Sultanpur road in Lucknow.
Several prominent schools remained closed as a precautionary measure in the city.
In Lucknow, BJP's former national president Rajnath Singh led the protest, whereas national vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was leading the protest in Kanpur.
Reports of similar protests also poured in from other districts including Allahabad where activists of the youth wing of the ruling SP stopped the Bareilly-bound Triveni Express at 5.30am on Niranjan railway bridge.
They protesters assembled in large numbers along the railway tracks and also burnt the effigies of the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The agitation delayed the onward journey of the train by an hour.
SP has directed its workers not to take law in their hands and hold peaceful protest, SP spokesman Rajendra Chowhdury said.
The Bharat bandh called by the BJP and other opposition parties to protest the diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap in subsidised LPG affected normal life in Assam.
Markets, shops, educational institutions, banks and private offices remained closed, while long distance private buses and other vehicles were off the roads, officials said.
Though privately operated city buses did not ply, the government-run ones were seen on the road with auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws ferrying passengers.
Trains and air services also operated normally, they said.
Elaborate security arrangements were put in place with security personnel deployed on the city streets, highways, at vital installations and vulnerable areas across the state, they said.
All the state government offices, including transport and power, were functioning normally.
The government had issued a notification yesterday to ensure normal functioning and attendance in all government offices and undertakings in the state in view of the nation-wide bandh on Thursday.
The notification warned that the government would resort to pay-cut, break in service and disciplinary action against employees who absent themselves from duties during the bandh period.
All heads of offices and departments were further instructed to deduct pay and allowances for unauthorised absence from offices and duties today and to initiate disciplinary action for such unauthorised absence.
Normal life was disrupted in Punjab and Haryana due to a bandh called by several political parties, including NDA, to protest against FDI in multi-brand retail and diesel price hike.
Public transport services were hit with state transport undertakings suspending their long route services to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh as a precautionary measure.
"We have suspended our inter-state bus services from 8am onwards in order to prevent any damage during protests. However, city bus services are operational," a senior official of Chandigarh Transport Department saidin Chandigarh on Thursday.
However, a senior official of Haryana Transport department said, "Transport services in Haryana were absolutely normal so far," adding, bus services to Punjab have been suspended.
Many private schools in Chandigarh were closed on Thursday in the wake of bandh call. However, shops and commercial establishments in Chandigarh were functional.
Railway services in Punjab were normal, DRM Ferozepur division, NC Goel said.
Flights to various destinations from Chandigarh operated on schedule.
However, truckers remained off the road on the call given by All India Motor Transport Congress against diesel rate hike.
"Trucks are not operational today to protest the Rs. 5 per litre diesel price hike," North India Motor Road Transport, President, Charan Singh Lohara said.
The impact of bandh was visible in several places including Amritsar, Jalandhar, Batala, Ludhiana, Mahendergarh and Ambala where majority of trading establishments were closed.
Members of political parties in Punjab and Haryana including BJP, SAD, INLD took out protest rallies and procession at several places including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amristar, Hisar, Jind, Bhiwani, Sirsa and Fatehabad to protest the Centre's decision on FDI in multi-brand retail, diesel price hike and ceiling on LPG.
Haryana's main opposition INLD workers joined by their leaders took out processions and held demonstrations demanding rollback of hiked diesel prices, removing cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and rolling back the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
"Trading and commercial establishments including shops will not be opened today in Punjab," BJP Punjab Media in-charge Vineet Joshi said in Chandigarh.
However, he said BJP will not stop trains in Punjab."Our intention is not to cause inconvenience to people," he said.
A report from Phagwara said that the city wore a deserted look because of bandh as business establishments, shops and bazaars, remained shut down. A few educational institutions were also closed.
In Yamunanagar in Haryana, where the bandh was effective, two goods trains were stopped by protesters on Ambala- Saharanpur railway track for about 15 minutes.
In Amritsar and Chandigarh, BJP workers led by party MPs Navjot Singh Sidhu and Anurag Thakur joined the protesters demanding rollback of diesel prices and FDI in retail.
The bazaars in Haryana's Ambala wore a deserted look.
"The Government will have to take back their decision on FDI as this will ruin us. The hiked diesel price has further added to everyone's miseries," Ram Gopal, a small trader based in Ambala, said.
Demonstrators from the Samajwadi Party shout slogans after they stopped a passenger train during a protest against price hikes in fuel and FDI near Allahabad railway station. Reuters Photo
BJP activists were on Thursday detainedin Meghalaya when they tried to force shopkeepers to close the shutters in view of a bandh called by them to protest FDI in multi-brand retail and diesel price hike.
BJP general secretary Dipayan Chakraborty along with 26 party volunteers were picked up by the police while forcing shopkeepers to down shutters and forcing public transport vehicles off the roads, East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner, Sanjay Goyal said.
Banks, markets, shops and educational institutions were closed, with government offices recording low attendance, reports said.
Government transport vehicles and a few taxis were on the roads.
The bandh was being supported by the opposition National People's Party and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People.
Normal life in Jharkhand was affected with the nationwide strike called by various political parties, including ruling partners BJP and JMM in the state.
Slogan-shouting bandh supporters squatted on railway tracks in Koderma, Dhanbad and other places disrupting train services for over a couple of hours, railways sources said.
BJP activists also put up blockades on national highways, affecting vehicular traffic, in protest against Centre's decision allowing FDI in retail, hike in diesel prices and limiting subsidised LPG cylinders.
Work at PSUs was affected following disruption of transportation of coal, iron ore, bauxite and other minerals in view of the stir.
Most educational institutions, shops and business establishments remained closed for the day.
"The BJP demands immediate roll back of diesel prices and limitation of subsidised LPG cylinders," party spokesman Pradip Sinha said at a gathering in Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantric-JVM) president Babulal Marandi, JMM vice president Sudhir Mahto, RJD state unit president Girinath Singh and left leaders also demanded immediate rollback of the decisions.
JMM and JVM are supporting the UPA government at the Centre.
The nation-wide bandh called bythe NDA and Left parties to protest diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap on subsidised LPG affected normal life in Karnataka.
Shops and offices chose to remain shut and only essential commodities like milk and medical services are available. All schools and colleges were closed. Vidhan Souda, the Secretariat of Karnataka, wore a deserted look.
However, Karnataka high court and lower courts are functioning. Buses owned by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation were off the road.
Those who arrived by trains were stranded in the railway station. There were reports of some autorickshaw drivers fleecing commuters.
Police are on a high alert to prevent any untoward incident.
Electronic City, where many IT and BT companies are situated, also wore a deserted look. The IT companies have deployed Central Security Force personnel to man important infrastructure on their campuses.
In Mysore, BJP workers stopped a Kannada film shooting in which Kannada actor Ramya, who recently joined Congress, was acting, police said.
The bandh also affected normal life in cities like Mandya, Davanagere, Hubli-Dharwad, Shimoga, Tumkur and Mangalore.
The bandh also received good response in Gadag and Bidar districts.
Normal life was disrupted in Odisha, barring the western region, due to disruption in train and road traffic during a bandh called by BJP and Left parties to protest diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and ceiling on subsidised LPG.
State government offices, banks and insurance offices remained closed on the occasion of 'Nuakhai'.
Schools, colleges and other educational institutions remained closed due to the festival celebrated with gaiety in western districts like Sambalpur, Bolangir, Bargarh, Sonepur, Jharsuguda and Deogarh.
Describing the bandh, being observed as part of a country-wide programme as a success, BJP state President Jual Oram said, "We have decided to exclude all activities related to Nuakhai festival from the purview of bandh."
Over a dozen trains were stopped at several railway stations including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Khurda Road, Bhadrak, Balasore and Berhampur as bandh supporters staged dharna on the tracks, an official of East Coast Railway (ECoR) said.
Vehicular movement was disrupted in many parts of the state as passenger buses, trucks and auto-rickshaw remained off the roads, police sources said.
A large number of passengers were seen stranded at railway stations and bus stands at many places, while roads wore a deserted look during the shut-down.
City bus services in many places like Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri were suspended.
In Bhubaneswar, supporters of BJP and left parties staged blocked roads and picketed separately at different places in a bid to enforce the bandh called by them.
Shops, business establishments and commercial centres downed their shutter in major areas including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Balasore, Baripada, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Puri.
Elaborate security arrangements were made by the police with heavy deployment of force throughout the state to prevent any untoward incident during the shut-down.
"The situation is peaceful and no untoward incident has been reported from any place. We are keeping a close vigil," a senior police official said.
BJP activist beat drums and shout slogans during Bharat Bandh to protest over FDI in multi-brand retail and increase in diesel prices in Jammu. PTI Photo
Markets, public transport and other businesses remained closed in Jammu city.
Attendance in government offices, banks, post offices and government-run educational institutions remained thin because of the non-availability of public transport in Jammu.
Peaceful protests were held at many places in Jammu city as police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel stood on high alert to ensure maintenance of law and order.
Reports from rural areas in adjoining districts also indicated the Bandh had adversely affected life there.
In the Kashmir Valley, however, life remained normal as the Bandh call had little effect there.
Local transporters called off their earlier announced strike.
Educational institutions, markets, public transport, banks, post offices and government offices opened as usual in the morning.
The nation-wide shutdown called by the opposition to protest hike in diesel price, cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and FDI in retail, evoked near total response in Andhra Pradesh.
Buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) went off the roads in most parts of the state.
The road transport came to a grinding halt with over four lakh trucks across the state joining the 24-hour strike since midnight.
A section of auto-rickshaw drivers in Hyderabad and other towns too joined the strike.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions were closed in several parts of Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Nellore, Tirupati, Kurnool, Karimnagar and other towns.
Police arrested scores of opposition workers who were trying to stop buses and forcing shops to down shutters.
In Hyderabad, almost all schools and colleges were closed. The RTC was running few buses while some three-wheelers were also seen plying.
Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), the biggest bus station in the state capital wore a deserted look with RTC suspending bus services from districts. Only a few services were running with police protection.
Activists of main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), CPI, CPI-M, BJP and TRS laid siege to APSRTC depots since early Thursday to prevent buses from coming out.
Those arrested include TDP leader and former Hyderabad mayor T Krishna Reddy, CPI state secretary K Narayana and CPI-M leader P Madhu. They were all held while protesting at MGBS.
Osmania University postponed all examinations and admissions to PhD Other universities have also put off the examinations in view of the shutdown.
The bandh is being observed separately by BJP and TDP. TRS is supporting the shutdown while TDP is working with the left parties.
BJP workers taking out a motor cycle rally during the Bharat Bandh in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. Agency Photo
Life in the city and elsewhere inWest Bengal was disrupted by a 12-hour bandh called by Left parties to protest diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap on subsidised LPG.
Though airport services were normal, train services in Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway were disrupted, officials said.
Running of trains in South Eastern Railway to and from Howrah were disrupted since 8.30am due to obstruction caused by protesters at Ramrajatala station.
Howrah-Pune Duranto Express, which started from Howrah on time, was stopped by the squatters here, railway sources said.
Eastern Railway spokesperson said that train services on Howrah division of ER were disrupted as bandh supporters blocked rail tracks at several stations. The obstructions were made at Katwa, Jougram, Agradeep, Ahemedpur, Bagnapara, Bhadreswar, Baidyabati and other stations.
Six long-distance trains reached Howrah this morning before the bandh started. He said that in Sealdah division of ER, train services were disrupted as bandh supporters obstructed rail traffic at Bongaon, Hasnabad and Diamond Harbour sections, he said.
However, train services were normal in Sealdah-Dankuni, Sealdah main line upto Kalyani, Namkhana-Sealdah and Budge Budge-Sealdah sections.
Services of the underground Metro rail, the city's lifeline, were normal, officials said.
Airport sources said the flight operations were normal in Kolkata airport, except cancellation of two Indigo flights - Kolkata-New Delhi and Kolkata-Agartala which were scheduled to fly in the morning.
Seven long-distance trains arrived at Sealdah and Kolkata stations before the bandh started.
Very few private buses were on the road but taxis were mostly off the roads in view of their 72-hour strike starting on Thursday in support of fare price hike. State-run buses and trams plied normally.
Educational institutions, shops and business establishments were by and large closed in the city.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Kolkata), Jawed Shamim told PTI that there has been no untoward incident so far in the city.
Police pickets have been set up in various parts of the city to check any untoward incident.
Officials of West Bengal government said that normalcy would be ensured during today's general strike called by the Left in the state from 6am. The strike coincides with NDA's Bharat Bandh over the same issue.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on Wednesday asked the Left not to go ahead with the strike.
Banerjee had said, "West Bengal would be further affected if bandhs are held. The previous Left Front government has crippled the economy. Going by the GDP rate, I can tell you that the state loses Rs. 1737 crore on a bandh day. Taken together, the loss is around Rs. 2000 crores."
She said that three years back her party had decided against calling bandhs.
Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary Vijay Goel on Thursday demanded that there should be an immediate survey to determine the subsidised LPG cylinder requirements of the poor.
Goel, who led a procession here during the bandh, also demanded complete roll back of the hike in diesel price and scrapping of FDI in multi-brand retail.
Speaking at a rally, he alleged that the UPA government had introduced FDI in retail to divert attention from the issue of coal block allocation.
BJP West Bengal president Rahul Sinha was also present at the rally.
Parties not supporting the Bandh
However, many political parties have stayed away from the bandh.
Trinamool Congress which reduced ruling UPA-II to minority by announcing to pull out its 19 MPs from the coalition, has opposed the bandh stating that a bandh served no purpose.
She said that taking advantage of the diesel price hike, the prices of some commodities were sought to be increased and a bandh would further aggravate the situation.
"We will not allow bandh forcibly," she said.
She said that offices in West Bengal would remain open on Thursday and state-run buses and trams would be on the roads.
Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which has 21 members of Parliament in Lok Sabha, too said it will not participate in the nation-wide strike called by opposition parties on Thursday.
Samajwadi Party has expressed displeasure on government's decision on FDI and diesel price. It announced stir against government's decisions on diesel, LPG and FDI. The party has 22 MPs in Lok Sabha.
Congress ally DMK, however, has decided to support the bandh. DMK president M Karunanidhi asked party workers and front organisations to participate in the strike and make it a success.
Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) too has decided not to participate in the countrywide strike.
With the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena staying away from the bandh, the BJP is banking upon support from JD(U) and traders' bodies of the nation. Various associations of traders and retailers have backed the bandh.
Traders' body CAIT said its members in different states will observe bandh in protest against the government's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail sector.
"All traders and retailers across Mumbai and Thane will down their shutters. We are not supporting any political party but fighting a battle for our own survival," said Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Associations.
Several leaders of different political parties, which are also observing the nation-wide bandh, will address a rally of retail traders at Jantar Mantar, Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Praveen Khandelwal said.
About 25,000 trade associations representing five crore traders, hawkers, labourers and farmers will participate in the bandh, Khandelwal claimed.
To discourage government employees from participating in bandh, the government in Assam would enforce pay cut, break in service and disciplinary action against employees who do not report for work during 'Bharat Bandh' on Thursday.
(With PTI inputs)