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Bandh effective in SAD-BJP led Punjab, partial in Haryana

Hundreds of ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists Thursday blocked traffic on highways across Punjab following the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Left parties' calls for a nationwide shutdown to protest the recent petrol price hike.

chandigarh Updated: May 31, 2012 14:49 IST

Chandigarh, May 31 (PTI) The nationwide bandh call against petrol price hike today affected normal life in SAD-BJP ruled Punjab, but evoked a mixed response in Congress-led Haryana.

In Chandigarh, rail traffic was disrupted as BJP activists held a demonstration close to the Chandigarh railway station causing detention of a few trains, including the New Delhi-Chandigarh-Kalka Himalayan Queen and the New Delhi-Chandigarh-Kalka Shatabdi Express.

As the SAD-BJP supported the nation-wide bandh call given by NDA, commercial establishments including shops, markets at most of the places in Punjab including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Batala, Kapurthala, Mohali, Pathankot and Amritsar remained closed, though factories and other industrial units were operational.

However, emergency services, including hospitals and chemist shops remained open.

Road transport was also hit due to the bandh, with majority of buses, including private ones, remaining off the road in Punjab, causing inconveniences to people.

Truckers, fearing damage to their vehicles, also did not ply in the wake of the bandh call.

"Majority of truck owners are not plying their vehicles during the bandh as they fear their trucks could get damaged during protests on road and most importantly the ruling party (SAD-BJP) is supporting it," said a Ludhiana based transporter Gurdeep Singh.

A report from Phagwara said that shopkeepers were seen shutting down their shutters in the morning as protesters belonging to SAD and BJP forced them to do so.

In Patiala, strength of students in government schools was also negligible even as many private schools in the city declared holiday today in view of the nationwide bandh call.

BJP and SAD workers held protest rallies at various locations in Punjab to express their anger against the steep hike made in petrol prices by the Centre.

The Akali Dal and BJP workers led by Ropar MLA and SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema sat on a dharna at Nangal chowk and blocked traffic on Ropar-Chandigarh road and National Highway No. 21 (Chandigarh Manali) and criticised the Congress led Centre for burdening the people with steepest hike in the petrol prices.

Cheema demanded for a roll back in the increased petrol prices.

A report from Ludhiana said that fuel stations had also shut down in view of the bandh putting to inconvenience a lot of people as they could not fill petrol and diesel in their vehicles. A large number of protesters had also blocked the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road.

In Amritsar, various political outfits including SAD, BJP, CPI and CPM held protest demonstrations at different places in Amritsar.

SAD activists led by Punjab Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majithia rode a bicycle to submit memorandum to the city district magistrate in Amritsar to register their protest against the petrol price hike.

Several BJP activists held a protest demonstration close to the tracks of Chandigarh railway station.

As a result, New Delhi-Chandigarh-Kalka Himalayan Queen was stopped just before the railway station at Chandigarh leaving a number of people stranded.

With Ambala-Chandigarh rail link being single line and Himalayan Queen not being allowed to proceed in view of the protest, the authorities halted the New Delhi-Chandigarh- Kalka Shatabdi Express near Lalru, about 30 km from here.

Another train running between Bhiwani and Kalka also got held up due to the protest.

Paschim Express, headed for Mumbai, which was scheduled to leave from Chandigarh at 11:15 AM, was also halted at Chandigarh station for the time being in view of the protest.

However, in Chandigarh, the shops and commercial establishments remained open and buses were plying as usual.

In Congress ruled Haryana, the nationwide bandh call evoked mixed response.

However, in Ambala Cantt, Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar, normal life was paralysed as bandh remained effective. Report from Hisar and Kaithal said that the commercial establishments including shops and markets remained open and buses plied as usual.

First Published: May 31, 2012 13:28 IST