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Rediff.com  » News » Partial success for opposition's Bharat Bandh

Partial success for opposition's Bharat Bandh

Last updated on: May 31, 2012 18:26 IST

Rediff.com brings you a combined update of the effect of Thursday's Bharat bandh, called by the National Democratic Alliance, Left parties and Samajwadi Party to protest against the latest hike in petrol prices, from various parts of the country.

42 BEST buses damaged in Mumbai

The Bandh supporters pelted stones at buses in many areas of Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Thane district and stopped some buses by blocking roads in Satara district of Western Maharashtra as the Bharat Bandh called by NDA to protest the petrol price hike began on Thursday.

As many as 42 BEST buses were damaged today in Mumbai and two drivers injured due to stone pelting by protestors demonstrating against the recent petrol hike following the nationwide bandh, police said.

The buses of the civic body's public transport wing, were stoned at various places in the metropolis including Vakola, Charkop, Worli, Kandivali, Kalina, Versova and Vikhroli, damaging windows and windscreens, police sources said.

Two bus drivers were injured in the incident. However, there were no reports of any injuries to passengers, police added.

Small establishments like private offices and restaurants in south Mumbai areas like Colaba have been declared closed till 4 pm today. Said Madhulika Dash, a freelance writer and Colaba resident who heads out every morning for breakfast, "The place I go to every morning (for breakfast) is closed. The owner told me that they will close till 4 pm today." A series of offices in the Fort area of Mumbai, the commercial district of the city, were closed.

The city is quieter today, especially in usually crowded places like Dadar station. Taxi stands are empty outside Dadar station. In other places like the noisy Borivli station area, the absence of autos has opened up the roads for commuters to walk without having to brave traffic snarls.

A shopkeeper in the Kandivli suburb area said on condition of anonymity, "My son opened our grocery shop at the usual 9 am time today, but within minutes, two men came and quietly told him to down shutters. We closed the shop because we don't want any trouble."

Police bandobast is heavy in areas where there are railway stations, bus depots, taxi stands, and in places where Shiv Sena and BJP activists staged 'rasta rokos' in Kandivli.

However, several office-goers have already made their way to work, though attendance is low in several places. Banks and petrol pumps are working normally, but the city's famed dabbawallahs are taking the day off.

In Pune, protestors damaged 13 Pune Municipal transport buses while stone pelting was reported on 10 buses in Nagpur and one bus in neighbouring Thane district.

In Satara, activists stopped some buses by blocking roads as part of the bandh.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai University has announced that there will no change in its exam schedule for today irrespective of the nationwide bandh.

Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the government will take stringent action against those creating nuisance during the bandh and has also asked police officials to deal sternly with incidents of violence during the bandh.

In Pune, the stone pelting incidents were reported from Deccan and Kothrud areas resulting in breaking of window glass panes of vehicles, police said.

Miscreants also deflated tyres of buses at some places.

The buses however, continued to ply with police protection and a large number of rickshaws too were seen on Pune roads.

Shops and commercial establishments were partially closed.

BJP activists block roads in Delhi

The Bharat bandh called by the Bhartiya Janata Party, Samajwadi Party and the Left parties to protest against the latest hike petrol prices virtually brought the movement of traffic in the national capital to a standstill cutting off eastern Delhi's link with the central parts of the city.

BJP workers jammed the Vikas Marg that has Delhi police headquarters at ITO in eastern part of the city. Hundreds of BJP workers also gathered near Akshardham on the Delhi-Ghaziabad route and blocked the traffic between Mayur Vihar and other important destinations across the Yamuna.

BJP Delhi unit chief Vijendra Gupta led the party workers to a sit-in on the railway tracks between Rohtak and Delhi. "Our bandh call against the steepest petrol price hike is going to be complete success. We are targeting 100 places where party workers will hold demonstrations. We took out a mashal juloos in Karol Bagh in the morning. We expect all the major shopping centres would remain closed and join the bandh," Gupta told rediff.com.

"The entire police force is on duty and we would move quickly and remove jams by the demonstrators. No one would be allowed to indulge in violence or hold the traffic," Delhi Police Public Relations Officer Rajan Bhagat said.

"Bandh is complete and successful. Our party workers have responded to the bandh call. They are creating traffic bottlenecks but are refraining from indulging in violence. People in Dwarka, Govindpuri, Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar have responded to the call," BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

However, unsuspecting passengers coming to Delhi from various parts of the country were left stranded because of auto and taxi strikes.

In the meanwhile, the Delhi Police have made token arrests of BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Sanjay Joshi and O P Kohli for enforcing the bandh. The leaders were let off soon.

Bandh supporters have also been trying to disrupt the metro services by locking gates of the metro stations at the Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi.

Bandh hits normal life in Karnataka

The bandh called by the NDA and Left parties to protest the steep hike in petrol prices today disrupted normal life in parts of BJP-ruled Karnataka where bandh supporters set on fire three buses and stoned about a dozen others forcing authorities to withdraw bus services in capital Bengaluru.

According to initial reports, the bandh evoked good response in several districts of Karnataka. Public transport was hit and shops and business establishments remained shut in several parts of the state.

Holiday has been declared for schools and colleges today in view of the bandh.

In stray incidents of violence targeting state-run buses, some persons torched three Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses in the small hours and stoned about a dozen forcing the authorities to withdraw bus services.

While a bus was set on fire on Roopena Agrahara, two others were torched in K R Puram and fire force rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire, police said.

In the wake of stray incidents of stone pelting, BMTC suspended city bus services till this evening.

As a precaution, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation also suspended services in some districts such as Kolar, Ramangara, Chikkaballapur, Hubli-Dharwad and Hassan.

Bandh supporters block roads, squat on railway tracks in West Bengal

The supporters of the 12-hour bandh called by the NDA to protest the petrol price hike today blocked some roads in some districts of West Bengal and squatted on railway tracks.

Bandh supporters blocked the Howrah bridge, which connects the metropolis to the Howrah district. They also blocked roads at Chapadali more in Barasat, in Bankura district, Budge Budge and some other places, police said.

They also damaged some buses in some places, they said.

However, buses, cars, taxis, trams were running in Kolkata though in less number. Police sources said there was no report of any violence in the city.

Airport sources said there was no cancellation of any flight.

South Eastern Railway sources said all their long distance trains reached Howrah station on time. Metro railway sources said their trains were running normally.

The West Bengal government had made elaborate security arrangement for the bandh. The state government had also issued a circular warning government employees against any leave on the bandh day.

"All state government offices will remain open and all government officers and employees should report for duty.

Government employees will not be granted any leave on May 31," Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh said in a circular.

Sharad Yadav, Shahnawaz Hussain detained in Bihar

NDA Convener and Janata Dal-United national president Sharad Yadav and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain were among 800 activists taken into custody while enforcing the NDA sponsored "Bharat bandh" in Bihar to protest the petrol price hike.

Yadav along with 700 odd supporters took out processions in Saharsa town to enforce the call. Yadav along with NDA supporters were soon taken into custody in Sahars sadar police station, sources said.

Hussain, the BJP national spokesman, and others were detained in Bhagalpur town while trying to enforce the bandh, they said.

Talking to reporters, Yadav demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign immediately for "failure" of his government to control the spiralling prices of petroleum products and essential commodities.

Yadav claimed the bandh was total.

Ruling JD-U and BJP leaders also took out processions in state capital Patna to enforce the call.

Shops shut in major cities of Rajasthan

Markets were closed in major cities of Rajasthan and private buses off the road as the bandh called by the NDA against petrol price hike began today.

With trade associations extending support to the bandh called by BJP, markets in major cities like Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur were closed.

"We have given support to the bandh call because the hike in petrol has hit the common man. We are also affected by the increase in petrol price so we extended support to the bandh call as a sign of protest," president of Jaipur Vyapar Mahasangh, Trilokchand Agrwal said.

He said no market in Jaipur will open today.

However, medical shops and emergency services are not covered in the bandh.

Suresh Saini, who represents M I Road market, said, "Strike is not a solution but a sign of resentment among people and businessman. The government should take a pro-people decision, not anti-people."

Autorickshaw and private mini bus operators are also participating in the nationwide strike.

A senior police officer said in state capital Jaipur that additional personnel have been deployed to ensure law and order situation in view of the strike.

The strike is peaceful and no untoward incident has been reported so far.

Bandh evokes lukewarm response in Tamil Nadu

The bandh called by NDA and Left parties to protest the petrol price hike evoked a lukewarm response in Tamil Nadu today.

Barring the Left bastion of Tirupur and industrial city of Coimbatore, where the response to the bandh was partial, other regions in the state saw little impact.

Buses, autorickshaws and private vehicles plied as usual and normal life remained unaffected with government offices and commercial establishments functioning as usual, police said, adding no untoward incidents was reported in the state.

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a UPA ally, had already staged separate protests on May 29 and 30 against the petrol price hike.

Police said BJP workers, including party's Tamil Nadu unit president Pon Radhakrishnan, were detained in Chennai and suburban Tambaram for attempting to block road and rail traffic respectively.

In Chennai, BJP workers also tried to burn portraits of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, police added.

A report from Madurai said the bandh failed to evoke any response in most parts of the southern districts. Train and bus services were operated with police deployed at sensitive locations.

BJP and CPI-M volunteers held picketings at various places in the southern districts of the state.

The response was total in the hosiery town of Tirupur while it was partial in Coimbatore and Nilgris district with 50 per cent traders and commercial establishments remaining closed. Fewer autorickshaws were on the roads.

Almost all shops and over 7,000 garment making units remained closed in Tirupur where over 300 DYFI and AIYF workers were arrested for attempting to block train. In

Coimbatore, police foiled an attempt by nearly 100 BJP workers to stage a picketing at the railway station.

The BJP-led NDA and Left parties have called the bandh protesting the steep hike of Rs 7.50 per litre in petrol price effected by the oil marketing companies last week.

Goa remains shut, tourists stranded

Goa remained completely shut except for few buses of state-owned Kadamba Transport Corporation plying on roads along with emergency services, in response to NDA's bandh call against the petrol price hike, sources said.

Several tourists were seen stranded in the coastal belt as tourist taxis, private buses and even autorickshaws were off roads fearing attack by protestors.

Police claimed that the strike was largely peaceful till noon sparing few incidents of road blockages and pelting of stones reported in North Goa's Bicholim town.

Siolim bridge linking the North Goa to Bardez and Tiswadi talukas was also blocked.

The attendance in the government and private offices remained scarce since morning, sources said.

The vehicles were hardly seen on roads in the morning but by noon people were seen travelling by the private transport.

Fearing action from transport department against them, All Goa Bus Owners Association had earlier decided not to support the strike, but they did not run their buses.

State-run Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited had few of its buses plying on some routes.

But the skeletal number of buses were not enough to cater to the passengers who were seen stranded on various bus stands across the state.

Several banks, which had initially decided not to join the strike, had rolled down their shutters as they ran short of staff to run day to day affair, sources said.

Odisha comes to a halt

Normal life in Odisha was affected today during the bandh called by by NDA, Left parties and ruling BJD against the steep increase in petrol price.

The shutdown was peaceful with security tight across the state, the police said.

Shops, business establishments, schools, colleges, banks and offices remained closed throughout the state including the state capital and at Cuttack, Berhampur, Puri, Balasore, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Paradip.

In state capital Bhubaneswar, roads wore a deserted look as public transport virtually came to a grinding halt.

Protesters carrying placards and banners held demonstrations and blockades demanding immediate roll-back of the hike in petrol price.

Train services were hit with bandh supporters blocking tracks at Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur and Balasore, delaying several trains including the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Express, police sources said.

A large number of passengers were stranded at railway stations and bus stands in the state.

Normalcy affected in Punjab, no impact in Haryana

Normal life was affected in Punjab due to the strike. Commercial establishments in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Batala, Kapurthala, Pathankot and Amritsar remained closed, though factories and other industrial units were operational.

The impact of bandh was also visible on the transport network with buses including private ones remaining off the road, causing inconvenience to people, as per reports pouring in from various districts including Patiala, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Kapurthala.

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

In Congress-led Haryana, the bandh call did not evoke much response with shops and commercial establishments remaining open at most of the places in the state.

Normalcy paralysed in Tripura

Normal life in Tripura was paralysed during the 12-hour bandh called by the ruling Left Front to protest the hike in petrol prices.

Schools and colleges, financial institutions and banks were closed and government offices reported very thin attendance, while vehicular traffic was off the roads.

The police said that the bandh was peaceful.

Three Rajdhani trains held up in Jharkhand

Normal life in Jhakrhand came to a grinding halt today during the 12-hour bandh called by the NDA in protest against last week's petrol price hike.

Roads wore a deserted look in many districts like Ranchi, Hazaribagh, West and East Singhbhum, Dumka, Latehar, Palamau, Gumla, Sahebganj and Lohardaga with bus and truck owners deciding to suspend their services.

Mineral transport was affected in several districts as trucks went off the roads.

Shops and business establishments were closed while supporters of BJP, JDU, JMM and Left parties separately held demonstrations in various places and blocked road traffic on NH-75 and Grand Trunk Road.

However, government offices remained open.

Three Rajdhani Express trains were held up in different places in Koderma and Giridih districts when agitating supporters of BJP and CPI (ML-Liberation) squatted on rail tracks.

The Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express, Delhi-Kolkata Rajdhani Express and Delhi-Sealdah Rajdhani Express were detained at different points in Koderma and Giridih districts for about three hours, the police said.

NDA supporters disrupted train services in Koderma while the CPI (ML-Liberation) activists separately held Chakkajam (blockade) on the tracks at Jarandih in Koderma district, according to police sources.

Rail Police Force Commander (Dhanbad) Shashi Kumar said that a case had been booked under IPC 174 (not obeying a legal order) against the agitators.

He, however, said the situation had returned to normal.

CPI (ML-Liberation) supporters also blocked the Grand Trunk Road in Giridih and squatted on rail tracks in Hazaribagh to disrupt vehicular and train traffic.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha supporters detained Tata-Badam Pahar passenger train on the outskirts of Jamshedpur.

In Ranchi, supporters of BJP and JDU held demonstrations at the busy Albert Ekka Chowk and took out protest-marches on the main thoroughfares, raising anti-UPA slogans and demanding immediate rollback of the petroleum prices.

There were no untoward incidents anywhere, barring one or two incidents like smashing glass panes of a couple of auto rickshaws in Jamshedpur, the police said.

Arunachal Pradesh affected by bandh

The dawn-to-dusk bandh called by NDA and its allied partners today protesting hike in petrol prices, affect normal life in Arunachal Pradesh including the state capital Itanagar.

All business establishments, educational institutions, central government offices and banking institutions remained closed while attendances in state government offices remained thin, official sources said.

Streets of Itanagar wore a deserted look with all sorts of commercial, public and private vehicles remaining off the road. However, state transport buses were seen plying with escorts.

The bandh enforcers however exempted the students who are appearing in the joint engineering and medical entrance examinations being conducted today.

The bandh remained peaceful with no reports of breach of law and order in any part of the state, police said.

Resounding response in UP

The call for a nation-wide bandh as a mark of protest against the recent hike in petrol price evoked a resounding response in large parts of Uttar Pradesh.
 
All political parties other than the Congress virtually joined hands to stage street demonstrations and ensure the closure of all markets and commercial establishments for the larger part of the day. Most shops resumed business later in the afternoon.
 
Cutting across party lines, demonstrators also burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Various political parties chose to stage independent demonstrations rather than join hands for a united protest.
 
According to reports reaching the state headquarters, trains were stopped at several places while road traffic was disrupted on account of demonstrations on some of the highways .

"Squatting on the rail tracks by protestors in Allahabad and Varanasi led to delay in departure of certain important passenger trains," said a spokesman of the state Home Department. 
 
Shutters of most shops in all the key cities of the state remained down , while trader organisations, citizens' groups and political outfits seemed to sink their personal differences and march down the streets raising anti-Congress slogans.
 
In Lucknow, the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership found an unique way of displaying their resentment against the petrol price hike. Some BJP leaders got a bullock cart and prominent party leaders including national vice president Kalraj Misra, former state president Surya Pratap Shahi and others climbed atop it, holding banners emboldened with demands like , 'roll back petrol price' and 'dismiss UPA government'.

One BJP leader rode on a horse to the state party headquarter with a banner to remind people how price rise would compel people to go back to the old mode of transport.

Schools and colleges closed in Assam

Normal life in Assam was affected today during the bandh called by the NDA and several other parties, including the opposition AGP, to protest the hike in petrol prices.

Schools and colleges were closed besides some financial institutions. Government offices reported thin attendance while vehicular traffic was off the road.

Bandh supporters blocked train movement by squatting on the railway tracks at Maligaon but police evicted them, police sources said.

"There is no report of any untoward incident and the situation is normal", Assam director general of police Jayanta Narayan Choudhury said.

Protestors block roads, deflate bus tyres in AP

Road blockades and dharnas marked the bandh called by NDA and Left parties to protest the steep hike in petrol prices in Andhra Pradesh today.

Telugu Desam Party, the main opposition in the state, also extended support to the bandh.

In state capital Hyderabad, BJP and Left parties participated in dharnas and took out a rally protesting the hike in petrol prices.

State BJP president G Kishan Reddy and former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and city president Venkat Reddy were among over 100 party workers taken into preventive custody when they staged dharna at busy Abids area, police said.

CPI-M and CPI took out a rally from Narayanguda crossing to RTC cross road raising slogans against the UPA government.

The Left party workers deflated tyes of five RTC buses which resulted traffic jam near RTC cross road.

B V Raghuvulu and Narayana, secretaries of CPI-M and CPI, respectively, were taken into preventive custody along with party workers.

BJP, TDP and Left workers staged dharna in front of Uppal RTC depot preventing buses to come out as a mark of their protest.

According to reports reaching Hyderabad, dharnas and road blocks were also organised in Nalgonda, Karimnagar, Mahabubnagar and Adilabad districts.

Mixed response for bandh in Gujarat

The nationwide bandh called by the NDA and Left parties to protest the steep petrol price hike today evoked a mixed response in Gujarat.

Shops and commercial establishments remained closed in

Ahmedabad even as the state government suspended bus services in the city after buses were pelted with stones by the protesters. BJP workers also tried to block rail traffic.

Auto-rickshaws also joined the shutdown adding to the woes of commuters in the city as party workers took to streets to enforce the bandh call.

Reports from Saurashtra say the bandh was total in Rajkot, Amreli and Bhavnagar district, while it met with a mixed response in Jamnagar.

Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry stayed away from the bandh, saying that the state government could have reduced VAT on petrol to provide some relief to people.

In Vadodara, autorikshaws continued to ply on roads undeterred by the bandh call though commuters complained of fleecing by some unscrupulous drivers who tried to exploit the situation.

Vitcos, a private company running bus services in the city, has pulled out buses fearing violence by the agitators.

Almost all business organisations and associations have extended their full support to the shutdown and remained closed down.

The petrol pumps and CNG stations too remained closed.

The bandh is peaceful so far and no major untoward incident is reported anywhere from the state.

Bandh affects normal life in Jammu and adjoining areas

The nationwide bandh called by NDA and other parties to protest the hike in petrol prices today threw normal life out of gear here as public transport remained off roads and offices registered thin attendance.

Shops and business establishments around the city also remained closed amid protests from BJP and other political parties, including CPI(M).

The BJP, led by Rajya Sabha MP, J P Nadda, and Avinash Rai Khanna took out a protest march in the city against the hike in fuel prices raising slogans against the Congress-led UPA government.

Earlier, BJP state president Shamsher Singh Manhas carried out a protest rally in the city riding on a horse-cart.

Manhas said if the fuel prices continued to increase like this, the day is not far when people will have to depend upon cycles and other traditional modes for conveyance.

Nadda alleged that the Congress-led UPA was working in an anti-democratic fashion and had no respect for the institutions of this country.

"It is very sad that the Parliament is being insulted. The budget session of 2012 is sine-die on May 22 and on the evening of May 23, this anti democratic government led by UPA raises the prices of petrol, knowing that people are already reeling under the serious inflation," Nadda pointed.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) activists also registered a protest against the hike in fuel prices and alleged that in last three years UPA government has raised the petrol prices for a record 18 times. They also said that that around 48 per cent tax was imposed on fuel.

Shiv Sena and Socialist Democratic Party workers also raised their concern about the unprecedented hike and urged for an immediate roll-back of the prices.

The bandh also had its effect of the other districts of the region with BJP protestors burning the effigy of UPA government in Kathua, however, the traffic movement on the national highway remained unaffected.

Bandh remains peaceful in MP

Barring a few incidents of violence, the day-long bandh call given by NDA and the Left Front to protest the steep hike in the price of petrol was by and large peaceful in Madhya Pradesh.

The ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh described the bandh as "successful as people supported it because of huge hike in the prices of petrol".

Addressing a meeting at Bhawani Chowk in Bhopal, state BJP president Prabhat Jha said the common man is facing lot of problems because of the Rs 7.50 hike in the price of petrol.

The bandh was successful in the entire state with all markets and business establishments remaining closed.

Though essential services, educational institutions holding exams, government offices, banks and insurance offices were spared from the bandh, the traffic on the roads was negligible till 3 pm.

The wheat procurement process too was spared from the bandh as today was the last date for procuring wheat on MSP.

The CPI and the CPM staged dharna near Bharat Talkies in the city. CPM state secretary Badal Saroj and CPI leader Shailendra Shaili demanded rollback in the petrol price hike.

Instead of arresting the rising inflation, the government is increasing the price of petrol, despite the fact that in the international market, prices of crude oil are falling.

Meanwhile, the main Opposition Congress alleged that the bandh was sponsored by the state government and the activists of the BJP and its allied organisations forced the people to observe bandh with the support of local police and administration.

State Congress media department chairman Manak Agrawal alleged that the number of petty traders, even those selling tea and samosa, were beaten by the ruling party members, specially in MP Nagar area.

He further alleged that the police, instead of registering complaint against those who indulged in violence, have booked the sufferers at the behest of the ruling party in the state.

With PTI inputs

Onkar Singh/Vrushali Lad/M I Khan/Sharat Pradhan in New Delhi/Mumbai/Patna/Lucknow