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BJP bandh evokes mixed response
July 03, 2008 11:43 IST
Last Updated: July 03, 2008 16:57 IST
Curfew continued for the second day in Jammu on Thursday, with extra-ordinary security bandbast to prevent the eruption of further protests against the cancellation of the forest land allotment to Sri Amarnath Shrine Board.
The Bharatiya Janata Party sponsored nationwide bandh call evoked a near total response in Jammu region, while it had no impact in Kashmir valley.
Banks, educational institutions and government offices remained closed for the third day in view of the strike and curfew.
Angry protestors had on Wednesday torched some dwellings of members from the minority community in Vijaypur area at Samba district.
The district authorities later imposed an indefinite curfew in Samba and army troops carried out a flag march.
Police placed BJP state president Ashok Khajuria under house arrest in Jammu to prevent his participation in the protests.
Curfew also continued for the second day in Bhaderwah town of Doda district, which is also the hometown of Chief Minister Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad, where the agitation had taken a communal turn on Wednesday.
The Bharat bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Aam Hartal called by the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday failed miserably in New Delhi, claimed senior officers of the Delhi Police.
The VHP and the BJP had called the nation-wide bandh to protest the revocation of the order to allot forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board.
However, Delhi police officials claimed that the bandh had not affected traffic movement in the city. In fact, they claimed that the traffic was running more smoothly.
"We are going to do everything possible to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the capital," a spokesperson for the Delhi Police told rediff.com.
Journalists, who usually take over 45 minutes to reach their workplace, managed to reach in half an hour on Thursday.
However, Jagdish Mukhi, senior leader of BJP's Delhi unit, rejected the claim that the BJP's call for nationwide strike has evoked no response.
"The markets in trans-Yamuna area are closed. Similarly, the markets in Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh and South Extension are all closed. The day has just begun and you will find that the strike will have its desired impact," he claimed.
VHP leaders Pravin Togadia and Jai Bhagwan Goel have declared that their supporters would force a chakka jam to ensure the success of the Bharat Bandh.
Meanwhile, the bandh had little impact in West Bengal today.
Buses, taxis and trams were plying normally and there was no report of any disruption in city or suburb road transports, police sources said.
Schools, colleges and government offices were open as usual, they said.
Eastern Railway sources said there were reports of some temporary disruptions in the train services in Sealdah-Barasat, Sealdah-Baruipur and Sealdah-Bongaon section due to squatting on the tracks by bandh supporters.
Incidents of stone pelting and road blockades were reported in various parts of Mumbai today morning.
VHP supporters pelted buses with stones in suburban Kandivili, damaging five BEST
Hundreds of VHP supporters blocked important arterial roads at Vakola, Malad and Borivili in northwest Mumbai and in the northeastern suburb of Ghatkopar.
The police have, however, dispersed the crowd and ensured a smooth traffic flow.
Nobody was reportedly injured in the incidents of stone pelting and road blockades, police said.
The bandh called on by Vishwa Hindu Parishad turned violent in Thane, a township near Mumbai, as VHP activists damaged public transport vehicles and business establishments to protest the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board land issue in Jammu and Kashmir [Images].
Police said incidents of stone pelting by VHP members were reported from various parts of the city including Naupada and Wagle Estate among others.
Three VHP activists were arrested in connection with the incidents at Naupada.
The activists forced business establishments to down shutters and placed blockades to avoid transportation. Incidents of stone pelting were also reported from Kalyan, Dombivili and other parts of the district.
Shops and business establishments in several parts of Karnataka remained closed today. The state's bus services were hit following the countrywide bandh called by the BJP.
However, the bandh evoked little response in Bangalore. Government offices functioned normally and public transport vehicles plied as usual.
Police said they organised adequate precautionary measures to maintain law and order in the BJP-ruled state, where the party's state-unit has extended full support to the bandh.
The bandh, however, was not supported by the government. "Since it is not a government-sponsored bandh, all government offices as well as schools and colleges will function normally," a police official said.
"Apart from deploying police personnel in all the districts and Bangalore city, additional measures have been taken in sensitive areas," he said, adding that intensive patrolling was taking place.
With the state BJP opting out, the nationwide shutdown called by Vishwa Hindu Parishad received a lukewarm response in Gujarat today.
Most business establishments, small shops and offices were functioning as usual in the city, while some malls and shopping centres remained closed.
Schools and colleges remained open. Some schools were forced to shut down by VHP workers, who were moving around the city on two-wheelers, asking shopkeepers to down shutters.
No incident of violence has been reported from any part of Ahmedabad. Policemen could be seen at all major junctions and sensitive areas.
In Rajkot and Bhavnagar, there was a mixed response to the shutdown call, with the main market in both districts remaining closed. Small shops and offices, however remained
Normal life was severely affected today with shops closing down and vehicles staying off the roads in Madhya Pradesh.
While no untoward incident was reported in the Bhopal, it witnessed a near shut down.
BJP activists, backed by supporters of Bajrang Dal and other associate organisations, were seen moving around in markets across Bhopal to ensure closure of the shops to make the bandh a complete success.
Curfew was imposed in Bombay Bazar and Mukeripura areas of Indore today and Section 144 has been clamped in Khajrana area following incidents of violence during the bandh call given by the VHP.
The police used lathi charge and teargas shells to control the situation as members of the two communities indulged in violence, Indore Superintendent of Police R K Choudhry said.
Heavy police force has been deployed in the areas to prevent further flare up, he said.
In Punjab, scores of BJP activists stopped the Howrah-Amritsar express in Ludhiana and stopped road traffic and forced closure of shops in certain parts of the state.
The bandh called by the VHP and the BJP paralysed normal life in Kerala today.
Barring some sporadic stone pelting incidents at Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses and attack against a toddy shop in Kottayam district, the hartal was by and large peaceful.
The hartal supporters pelted stones at KSRTC buses at Balaramapuram, Plamoodu, Peroorkkada and Ullur in the district, Valancherry in Malappuram district and Kothamangalam in Ernakulam district, police said.
Police had taken 15 people, eight from Peroorkkada, three from Malappuram and four from Kannur, into preventive custody.
All public transport system, including buses, kept off the roads. Only private vehicles and two-wheelers could be seen plying.
Educational insititutions, commercial establishments and hotels remained closed, while government offices reported thin attendance.
Life was disrupted throughout the state today as the VHP-sponsored 'Bharat Bandh' registered unexpected impact in Assam.
Despite lack of awareness about the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board issue due to very little local media coverage on it, the VHP-sponsored bandh, backed by the BJP, registered partial response.
Although private vehicles plied normally, public transport vehicles remained off the roads while all the banks, private offices and business establishments remained closed.
The countrywide bandh evoked a near total response in Chhattisgarh with a majority of the regions observing a complete shutdown.
Educational as well as financial institutions remained closed whereas offices in the state capital witnessed a thin attendance in morning hours.
Members of the right wing Hindu organisation were seen enforcing the bandh in many parts of the tribal state with Bilaspur, Bastar, Sarguja and Rajnandgaon regions observing a total shutdown while Raigarh witnessed a partial response. Vehicles stayed off the roads following the strike call.
However, some three-wheelers ferrying passengers were attacked by bandh supporters on the Raipur-Bhilai Road, damaging front glasses of the vehicles.
Several educational institutes and business establishments remained closed while police detained about 800 bandh supporters, including former chief minister Arjun Munda and BJP's chief whip C P Singh.
"A total of 159 persons were arrested for enforcing the bandh. The bandh was peaceful with no reports of violence," Ranchi city superintendent of police Richard Lakra said.
Rail services were disrupted in Jamshedpur when BJP and VHP activists held up Howrah-Barbil Satabdi and Tata-Patna Express, forcing the police to round up over 500 bandh supporters across the steel city, police said.
The bandh was complete in Simedega, Gumla, Dumka, Deogarh, Chatra, Godda and Palamau, according to reports. Stray incidents of smashing of windscreens were reported
Government offices and banks, however, functioned normally.
The Bharat bandh call issued by the BJP-VHP combine failed to evoke any response in Tripura today.
Schools, colleges and educational institutions as well as government offices and banks remained open and normal attendance was recorded.
Vehicles plied as usual and shops and markets were open throughout the state. Police said no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state.
In Punjab, train and road traffic was disrupted for over an hour at Ludhiana, Rajpura, Phagwara and Bathinda.
Activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal marched through city streets, forcing shops and factories to down shutters in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Patiala as well.
In Chandigarh, police used mild lathi charge to disperse protesters when they forcibly tried to shut some shops. However, no one was injured.
Protesters stopped the Howrah-Amritsar Express train at Ludhiana and blocked the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway. The traffic on Amritsar-Delhi highway was also disrupted.
The scenes were no different in neighbouring Haryana. In Sonepat, protesters burnt an effigy of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and shouted slogans against the Congress party.
Some areas of Sonepat, Karnal, Rohtak and Ambala were hit by the bandh. However, banks, government offices and educational institutions were open as usual and rail and road traffic remained unaffected.
The country-wide bandh called by the BJP-VHP had little impact in Orissa today as it was made a 'symbolic' affair in view of the Rathayatra on Friday.
The bandh was observed symbolically for two hours only, from 9 am to 11 am, as the VHP did not want to inconvenience pilgrims visiting the holy town of Puri for the annual festival, VHP sources said.
Essential services were kept out of the purview of the shutdown, they said.
Though buses, taxis, autorickshaws and trucks plied normally, traffic jams were experienced at some placed including Berhampur as BJP and VHP activists staged roadblocks and obstructed vehicular movement, police said.
Educational institutions including schools, colleges and government offices were open, they said.
Reportage: Onkar Singh in New Delhi, Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar, PTI, UNI
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