Normal life was partially affected in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on Friday. An opposition-sponsored state-wide bandh was called in Andhra Pradesh to protest against fuel price hike while West Bengal was in the grip of a bandh for the second consecutive day after the opposition Trinamool Congress and its ally the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) enforced the shut down to protest the fuel price hike.
In Andhra Pradesh, the activists of the main opposition TDP, CPI(M), CPI, BJP and TRS held protest demonstrations and sit-ins in various cities and towns across the state.
Buses of the state-run APSRTC were stopped by bandh supporters at Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Karimnagar and other towns.
Reports of bandh-supporters pelting stones at RTC buses were received from Kamareddy in Nizamabad district and other places.
In Karimnagar, the TRS, spearheading an agitation for separate Telangana, and TDP which is traditionally opposed to the division of the state, came together for the protest.
Similar instances were seen in Hyderabad where students and commuters could not reach their destinations on time.
Meanwhile, auto drivers also launched a strike since midnight demanding hike in auto fares following the fuel price hike.
The taxi operators continued their stir for the second day today demanding withdrawal of VAT imposed on them.
Employees of IT companies and BPO firms, who depend on the taxis to commute to the office, faced difficulties.
The Left parties in the state also proposed to take out a rally to voice their protest. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy appealed to the political parties and people in general to cooperate with the government as the fuel prices were hiked under compulsion following the surge and crude oil price internationally.
Talking to reporters in Guntur district, he claimed that "an attack was on against developing countries like India which resulted in the oil prices going up alarmingly".
Reddy took the steam out of the opposition attack by announcing on Thursday that the State government would absorb the Rs 50 hike in LPG gas cylinder.
However, TDP leader Yerram Naidu alleged that the Congress government did not keep its pre-election promise of giving a substantial subsidy on LPG. He led his party's protest in Srikakulam by symbolically pulling a rickshaw.
Bandh in West Bengal
For the second day in a row the bandh disrupted rail and road communication. Most shops and markets were closed and there were very few vehicles on the road.
Trains services in Howrah and Sealdah section were badly hit. Eastern Railway (ER) and South Eastern Railway (SER) authorities have cancelled several trains while many long distance trains were stranded at different stations due to the blockades on the tracks put up by the bandh supporters.
Airport sources around 15 flights took off from the N S C Bose International Airport till 7 am.
Flight operations from the New Delhi to strike-hit West Bengal remained unaffected with all flights leaving as per schedule. All our morning flights to Kolkata left as per schedule, an airline official said.
About 10 Jet airways flights and one Indian flight were cancelled on Thursday following strike called by Left parties in the state.
Trinamool Congress along with SUCI called the 12-hour bandh against Centre's fuel price hike decision. The BJP has also called a 12-hour bandh today on the same issue. On Thursday, the CPI(M)-led ruling Left Front had called a bandh to protest against the fuel price hike.
Meanwhile in Mumbai Shiv Sena workers protested against fuel price hike. The Shiv Sena workers on Friday staged a 'rail roko' at the suburban railway station to protest against the fuel price hike, disrupting local train services.
"The activists occupied the tracks since 0940 hrs to protest against the price hike," a Central Railway spokesperson said.
Local trains were already running late this morning due to intermittent overnight rains and the agitation has further inconvenienced office-goers.