Petrol price hike: Mixed response to opposition’s Bharat Bandh call
There was a mixed response to the Bharat Bandh called by the BJP and the Left on Thursday to protest hike in petrol prices. Many people in the metros and other cities chose to stay home.
There were reports of several buses in Mumbai being stoned and being set on fire, trains had been stopped in UP's Allahabad, and places in Odisha and Jharkhand. However, in Delhi, BJP workers blocked an arterial road that connects Ghaziabad to Delhi, causing much 0inconvenience to office-goers at a time when the temperature is soaring uncomfortably high at 45 deg C..
Shutdown near-total in Mumbai
Scores of protestors, including leaders from the BJP, Republican Party of India and Shiv Sena, were detained by the police for protesting in public places. Despite stringent security measures taken by the government, there were at least four incidents of government buses being stoned in Pune and Thane as the shutdown called by the BJP, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, and Left and other parties got under way Thursday morning. Most shops and commercial establishments, showrooms and hotels observed a shutdown, fearing violence. Protestors barged into establishments that had opened in the morning and forced them to join the shutdown.
However, most corporate houses and offices in the city continued to work like a normal weekday. Employees came in as usual as they were alerted to come early owing to the bandh.
Auto strike affects commuters in Delhi
Only a few autorickshaws plied on the roads. BJP workers blocked roads in east Delhi as part of the nationwide shutdown. There were reports of some roads being blocked in north Delhi as well. Nearly 300 trader associations in the city kept markets shut to support the shutdown.
The bandh evoked a lukewarm response in Tamil Nadu. 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, autos 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 AIADMK and opposition DMK, a UPA ally, had already staged separate protests on May 29 and 30 against the petrol price hike. Train and bus services were operated with police deployed at sensitive locations.
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.
Protests in Kolkata
In Kolkata, BJP workers tried to block the road to the airport at Baguihati. They also burnt rubber tyres. The police finally dispersed the crowd and one person was arrested. Bandh supporters also blocked the Howrah bridge, which connects the metropolis to the Howrah district. Protestors torched a stationary state government bus, but there were no injuries. Police have arrested 38 people for trying to disrupt traffic by putting up road blockades in various areas of Kolkata and Howrah. Protestors also blocked roads at Chapadali More in Barasat in the Bankura district, Budge Budge and some other places, police said. They also damaged some buses in some places, they said.
Normal life in Odisha was affected during the bandh. 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.
- Asian Tribune -