A dawn-to-dusk shutdown called in support of drought-hit farmers is being observed in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday, with Dravida Munnetra Kazagham working president M K Stalin courting arrest in the Cauvery delta region of Tiruvaur.
Stalin, along with cadres of the DMK and other parties, came in a procession in Tiruvarur and was detained in a marriage hall, police said, adding they will be let off later.
Senior DMK leader and former Union Minister T R Baalu was among those who took part in the agitation in Tiruvarur.
In Chennai, farmers’ leader P Ayyakannu, who staged a protest in the national capital for 41 days, and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasu took part in a demonstration held at Egmore.
Bank employees staged a protest on the arterial Anna Salai, led by All India Bank Employees Association C H Venkatachalam and Centre of Indian Trade Unions leader A Soundararajan.
The state secretaries of Communist Party of India-Marxist and CPI, G Ramakrishnan, and R Mutharasan respectively, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief Thol Thirumavalavan, and Congress leader KV Thangabalu went in a procession in Saidapet.
A series of protests, including a ‘rail roko’, were held in some parts of the state including Tiruchirappalli, Coimbatore, Madurai and Kanchipuram.
Shops, local vegetable markets and a section of private establishments were shut down, partially affecting normal life in response to the bandh call.
While auto-rickshaws and a section of private taxi services kept off the roads, state government-run transport corporations operated their services as usual.
Thousands of police personnel have been deployed in the state to maintain law and order.
Opposition parties including DMK, Congress, CPI-M, CPI, VCK and Indian Union Muslim League apart from trade unions affiliated to them, farmers bodies and the film fraternity have pledged support to the shutdown.
However, both factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Bharatiya Janata Party, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Tamil Maanila Congress-M are not participating in it.
On April 16, a meeting of the opposition parties chaired by Stalin gave the bandh call.
According to the DMK, the bandh is to urge the central and state governments to fulfil the demands of farmers and farm labourers which includes adequate relief and setting up of the Cauvery Management Board.
Image: Shops remain shut in Chennai as the state witnesses a bandh in support of the drought-hit farmers. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com