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Vidarbha shutdown total, trains stopped

india Updated: Jan 20, 2010 13:55 IST
IANS
Vidarbha

Long distance and local train services were disrupted, state transport buses stoned and most private and government offices closed Wednesday during the daylong shutdown for a separate state of Vidarbha, to be carved out of Maharashtra.

Policemen were out in strength in Nagpur and other major towns of the 11 districts where the shutdown called by 68 political parties and groups such as Vidarbha Nirman Sangram Samiti (VNSS) evoked a spontaneous and enthusiastic response, the organisers said.

The shutdown has been opposed by Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena which are against bifurcation of Maharashtra.

At least nine long distance trains, including New Delhi-Bangalore Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Nagpur Vidarbha Express, were forcibly stopped, four state transport buses were stoned, and the Mumbai-Kolkata and Varanasi-Kanyakumari highways were blocked by protesters, who ignored the prohibitory orders announced by the authorities.

Over 200 people -- including 55 in this city -- were detained for violating the orders. Four pro-Vidarbha youths attempted to climb up a BSNL communication tower in Bhandara town, but were forced to come down by the police.

"All schools, colleges, a majority of government offices and more than a lakh commercial and business establishments in entire Vidarbha have taken part in the shutdown," said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishor Tiwari.

The Vidarbha region comprises the districts of Nagpur, Chandrapur, Gondiya, Bhandara, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Amravati, Yavatmal, Buldana, Akola and Washim, with a total population of 30 million.

As part of the shutdown, attempts were made to stop other trains entering from north, east and south India at various points, railway officials said.

Huge traffic snarls were witnessed at the state's borders with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh as vehicular movement on the national highways was stopped by pro-Vidarbha agitators, while the proposed Telangana state in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh also observed a shutdown Wednesday.

Nagpur was deserted as all public and private vehicles remained off the roads and commercial establishments downed shutters.

In Yavatmal, a group of 50 farm widows led by widow-activist Bebitai Bais, squatted outside the State Bank of India office raising slogans for a separate state and for justice to the farmers.

In several Yavatmal villages, rallies were taken out and local leaders demanded a separate state for the region's development.

People also enacted farmer suicides, consuming poison or immolating them as crowds cheered and raised a chorus for a separate state.

District authorities have removed large hoardings at the border posts welcoming motorists to the 'state of Vidarbha' and 'state of Telangana'.

The hoardings were put up Sunday by pro-Vidarbha and pro-Telangana groups. They plan to put up similar announcements outside all major towns and villages in the region over the next few days.