Flights cancelled, trains disrupted, trucks and buses off the roads and shops and educational establishments closed -- life was on hold in many parts of India Monday due to a daylong shutdown called by opposition parties against the hike in fuel prices.
Though the response to the shutdown varied from state to state, the strike called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties was mostly successful as schools, colleges, offices, malls, multiplexes and other establishments were closed in many cities across the country.
In many states, the strike was successful as governments belonging to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties and the Left ensured that offices and other establishments stayed shut.
Roads wore a deserted look as buses, auto-rickshaws, trucks and cars joined the bandh, as they were the worst affected due to the recent petroleum products hike.
Educational institutions, cinema halls and petrol pumps also remained closed in the state.
BJP national Vice President Karuna Shukla and party General Secretary Thavar Chand Gehlot led the protesters in Raipur, appealing the traders to join the nation-wide bandh.
The bandh was a total success in other parts of the state including Bilaspur, Rajnandgaon, Raigarh, Durg and Jagdalpur districts, BJP state president Ramsevak Paikra told PTI.
"The 'Bharat Bandh' is a big success and the common man has expressed their anger on the Union Government's policy, which has badly affected," Paikra said.
The TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu along with his party workers were arrested in Ameerpet area in Hyderabad on Monday when they staged dharna in protest against the hike in prices.
He was shifted to Banjara Hills Police station.
Workers of various Opposition parties staged sit-outs in front of some bus depots in Khammam, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy and Kadapa districts of the state disrupting services of the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation, causing heavy inconvenience to commuters, police said.
In Rajahmundhry, services of over 700 buses in nine depots have been cancelled as protestors stopped buses and organised agitations, a APSRTC official said.
However, train services in the state remained unaffected.
"No disruption has been reported so far. We have neither rescheduled nor cancelled any of the train services in the region," the official spokesperson of South Central Railways said.
All schools, colleges and universities in the city remained closed on Monday. While banks continued to function normally, petrol stations and cinema halls will remain shut till Monday evening.
About 100 public transport buses were damaged in Mumbai and Pune on Monday by activists trying to enforce 'Bharat Bandh,' called by the Opposition parties, but bus services remained unaffected, official concerned said.
"The protestors stopped 78 BEST buses and stoned, damaging window glass panes at several parts of the city. Kandivali, Antop Hill, Santacruz, Parel and Mahim are among the few areas where buses were targeted and damaged," said A S Tamboli, spokesperson of BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), city's transport wing.
In the violent incidents, seven drivers and one conductor sustained minor injuries, he added.
However, the BEST services remained unaffected and all buses are plying on the roads amid tight security, he said.
Some autorikshaws were also damaged in the violent incidents in the city, police said.
In Pune, 20 public transport buses were damaged in stone pelting, officials said.
Agitators stoned buses, many of which were stationary, as they came out on the streets to enforce Bandh despite a heavy police security.
A spokesman of Pune Municipal Transnport said no passenger was injured in the incidents in which the buses were targeted.
Normal life was hit in major cities of Rajasthan on Monday following the opposition call for a nationwide shutdown against rising fuel prices.
Schools and colleges remained closed in the state capital Jaipur and other major cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Kota.
Reports coming in from various parts of the state said markets were shut and public transport remained off the roads leaving commuters stranded.
In Jaipur, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers disrupted vehicular movement on some roads causing jams at Choti Chaupar, Badi Chaupar and Sodala areas.
"Jams have been reported from some areas of the city. We are trying to clear them. So far, the bandh has been peaceful with minor skirmishes between protesters and police being reported from some areas of the city," a police officer said.
Flights and train services were, however, unaffected.
Railways have deputed Railway Protection Force on stations for smooth running of the trains.
Shops were closed in many parts of Himachal Pradesh on Monday and road and rail services affected as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) workers protested the recent fuel price hike.
Road traffic was hit in Shimla, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Una, Dharamsala, Kangra and Solan.
In Shimla, schools and educational institutions were closed.
A train on the Shimla-Kalka track was also stopped as CPI-M activists protested.
"A train on the way to Kalka from Shimla was stopped at 9 am in the Summer Hill area (in Shimla) for more than one-and-half hours by the activists of the CPI-M. However, there was no damage to property," a railway official told IANS.
Cadres of the ruling BJP along with opposition parties enforced the shutdown in most districts of the state, forcing shops in most towns to down shutters.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, which runs bus services in the state and to neighbouring states, and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, which services the IT hub, withdrew their buses after several of them were stoned in Bangalore and other parts of the state, Transport Minister R. Ashok told reporters here.
All IT companies, including bellwethers Infosys and Wipro, schools and colleges had on Saturday announced that they will be shut on Monday.
With taxi and autorickshaw unions extending support to the shutdown, only a few of these vehicles were on the roads, charging exorbitant fares from the commuters.
The state government offices and banks were deserted with no customers and only handful employees. The state government employees association is supporting the shutdown.
Only essential services like milk supply and pharma shops were exempt from the shutdown. But majority of the pharma shops remained closed in most of the areas in Bangalore.
Roads were deserted as only few ventured out as shopping complexes, malls and cinema theatres were also shut.
The 12-hour shutdown ends at 6 pm.
Leaders and workers of Left and BJP separately hit the streets across the state to enforce the bandh against spiralling prices. The strike is being observed peacefully, police said in Ranchi.
Passengers were stranded at bus stands after private bus operators suspended their services while non-operation of trucks affected mining activities in several districts.
Two trains were halted at Jamtara station as bandh supporters squatted on the tracks, police said.
Security forces have been deployed in strength at strategic points including railway stations, bus stands and airport to keep bandh supporters at bay, a senior police officer said.
CPI-M Central Committee member J S Majumdar, who was leading a protest by partymen, said, "The bandh is spontaneous because price rise has hit the common man the most."
BJP's state unit spokesman Sanjay Seth said the party is holding demonstrations at various places, including near Central Coalfields Limited (CCL).
Normal life was disrupted in West Bengal on Monday as road and rail services were affected and government offices were closed following a 12-hour shutdown called by non-Congress parties in the country.
Supporters of the state's ruling Left held rallies from early morning in several parts in Kolkata, put road blocks and forcibly prevented people from going to work.
No public buses were plying and roads wore a deserted look. Government offices remained closed as the shutdown turned out to be a government-sponsored strike.
"No untoward incidents were reported across the state. The strike is peaceful. We have deployed policemen to handle any kind of untoward situation and maintain law and order across the state," Inspector General (Law and Order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha said.
Several long distance trains were cancelled and others stranded at different places as political supporters squatted on railway tracks at different sections.
Passengers of the Sealdah and Howrah railway stations as well as the NSC Bose airport were worst sufferers. They will have to wait without food and water till train services resume in the state.