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August 4, 2000
Strike call evokes mixed response in Bombay
Our Correspondent in Bombay
The all-India bandh [general strike] called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and supported by the Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday evoked mixed response in Bombay.
Rail traffic, which was disrupted in parts of the extended suburbs early in the day, returned to normal after the police thwarted attempts of BJP and VHP workers to disturb routine life in the city.
The police said VHP and BJP workers also tried to stop the traffic in some places, but were chased away.
Atul Shah, BJP legislator from south Bombay, told rediff.com, "People have voluntarily shut down their shops and are not reporting to work in protest against the killing of Amarnath yatris by militants."
Some of the places affected were: Cotton Exchange, Kalbadevi, Charni Road, Kandivli, Borivali, Bombay Central, Girgaum, Prarthana Samaj, Worli, Opera House, Parel, Chembur and New Bombay.
Many schools and colleges were let off early as the authorities feared that there could be some trouble.
The railways also suspended operations for a while between Andheri and Borivali on the Western line and between Mulund-Thane and Sion on the Central line following attempts by VHP and BJP activists to halt trains.
Taking advantage of the situation, autorickshaw and taxi drivers overcharged passengers at some places. But many taximen preferred to stay away, anticipating trouble. Traffic on the roads was sparse.
The police said there were incidents of stone pelting on the Andheri-Kurla Road. But traffic in south Bombay moved without a hitch. The police, however, told motorists to be careful because there were some incidents of stone throwing.
In Borivali, according to one report, commuters were dragged out of a bus by VHP and BJP workers and the vehicle's tyres were deflated. In Chembur, a group of VHP-BJP activists went around threatening shopkeepers who tried to open their establishments in the morning.
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