The government's fuel price hike provoked protests in many parts of the country and brought life in some regions to standstill as political parties called for bandhs demanding a rollback of the proposed hike.
The price of diesel went up by Rs 2 a litre, kerosene by Rs 3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs 35 per cylinder. The prices of petrol will now be costlier by Rs 3.50 per litre.
Strike in West Bengal
Buses, taxis and autorickshaws went off the roads on Saturday in response to a public transport strike called by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) against the fuel price hike in West Bengal as the handful of taxis and autorickshaws that plied made a killing by charging exorbitant fares. Ferry services on various rivers across the state also did not operate.
The strike was called by CITU, the labour arm of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), hours after the central government on Friday ended government curbs on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas.
Desperate commuters got onto trucks to reach their destinations while cycle rickshaws and the city's runner-pulled rickshaws provided relief to many while charging them more money.
"What can I do? I have to appear for my job interview. I paid Rs 100 to the rickshaw puller for travelling from my home to Ballygunge. I don't know why life is disrupted by calling strikes so often in Bengal," said Kolkata resident Amit Biswas.
Though flights and train services were kept outside the purview of the protest, people had trouble getting transport to reach their destinations from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport or railway stations.
Car owners were lucky as vehicles meant for private use were exempted from the strike. Metro Railway services, also in the exempted category, also functioned normally.
"There are no reports of any untoward incident. The situation is completely peaceful," state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said.
Bandh in Kerala
In Kerala public transport and commercial vehicles were off the roads in response to a bandh call by the CPI(M)-led ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), reports from across the state said. Universities have postponed the examinations scheduled for the day. There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere, police said, adding essential services have been exempted from the strike.
Protests in Maharashtra
Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde led an agitation of party workers in Mumbai protesting the price hike and over all inflation in the country.
Addressing party workers outside state BJP office in South Mumbai, Munde said, "the anti-people policies of the UPA government are responsible for rising inflation," adding, "this will pose additional burden on the common man."
BJP workers organised similar protests against price rise in other places in Maharashtra, he said.
Agitations in Andhra Pradesh
All Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday took to streets in a massive way protesting the steep hike petroleum product prices and organised agitations even as Chief Minister K Rosaiah said government would take a decision on July 1 on reducing the impact of the hike.
The protesters demanded an immediate rollback in fuel price hike. Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) chief Chiranjeevi, as part of the agitation, participated in a padayatra from Tummalapally auditorium to Sub-Collector’s office after riding a bullock cart fitted with lorry steering for some distance in Vijayawada.
Similarly, CPI State Committee secretary K Narayana also participated in a demonstration in Vijayawada.
Slamming the government for increasing the fuel prices, the protesters burnt the effigy of Central government.
Shutdown in Tripura
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led ruling Left Front in Tripura called for a 12-hour shutdown in the state on Monday to protest against the hike in fuel prices.
Left Front spokesperson Gautam Das told reporters that by increasing prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, the central government "has made the greatest assault on people".
"The dawn-to-dusk strike would be observed Monday to condemn the hike in prices of fuel and to demand withdrawal of the decision," he said.
Demonstrations Punjab and Haryana
Opposing the hike in prices of petro-products, BJP leaders on Saturday staged demonstrations across Chandigarh. BJP workers also held demonstrations at other places in Punjab and Haryana.
Criticism in Jammu and Kashmir
Criticising the Centre for hike in fuel prices, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of CPI(M) today said the "callous and anti-people" decision is a crucial blow to the common man, who are already suffering due to the runaway increase in the prices of food and essential commodities.
Criticism in Tamil Nadu
MDMK leader Vaiko and Dravidar Kazhagam general secretary K Veermani today condemned the hike in the prices of petroleum products and asked the Centre to withdraw it immediately as the increase would push inflation further up.
In a statement, Vaiko alleged the hike was only to "cover the uncovered deficit" of the union budget.
He said it had become the UPA government's practice to hike the prices of petroleum products at frequent intervals.
Protests in Orissa
Members of Orissa's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Saturday staged protests at various places in the state against the fuel price hike, saying it would "bring a lot of hardship to the people". While the BJD members staged protests inside the assembly, party workers and leaders staged a march in Bhubaneswar shouting slogans against the central government's decision.
Criticism in Uttar Pradesh
Slamming the UPA government for the fresh hike in petroleum-products, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Saturday said the move will hit overburdened farmers.
(With IANS and PTI inputs)