A one-day shutdown called on Tuesday by the Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu to express solidarity with the state’s drought-struck farmers has hit business but buses and autos are moving as usual.
While shops, hotels downed their shutters in the capital Chennai and other parts of the southern state, government buses were seen on roads. Offices, too, were open.
DMK working president MK Stalin and his senior party colleagues were arrested in Thiruvarur when they tried to block traffic.
In southern Tamil Nadu, protesters stopped vehicles and also forced public transport off the road. Schools and colleges are closed for summer break but life in general appeared unaffected by the shutdown.
The Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Indian Union Muslim League and a host of trade unions affiliated to the opposition parties are among those supporting the bandh.
In Chennai, all 3,800 state government buses have been provided security, with at least one police person onboard.
Cinema halls were closed for the day and the film fraternity expressed its support by cancelling shoots. Staff at fuel stations were wearing black badges.
Outside Chennai, the shutdown got a good response, especially in the Cauvery Delta, the rice bowl of the state. In Thanjavur, most businesses were shut and buses off the road. In Cuddalore private buses and auto rickshaws stayed away while shops were closed in Tirunelveli.
In temple town of Rameswaram, tourists had a tough time as hotels and restaurants downed shutters for the day.
Neighbouring Puducherry, too, joined the protest.
Poor rains have left Tamil Nadu battling a severe drought. The government had in January declared all the state’s 32 districts drought-hit and sought help from the Centre.
A group of farmer was camping in Delhi often resorting to novel -- sometimes shocking -- tactics to draw attention to their problems.
Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami visited them at Jantar Mantar on Sunday and urged them to end their agitation.
Palaniswami also assured the protesters of submitting a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ask him to waive off farm loans.
The farmers are demanding that the Centre step in to write off their loans from nationalised banks, a revised drought relief package and ways to resolve the “drying up” of the Tamil Nadu leg of the Kaveri river.