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Normal life hit during Bharat Bandh over price hike

Normal life was disrupted in several parts of the country during the `Bharat Bandh` called by a combined Opposition today in protest against fuel price hike with the greatest impact felt in NDA and Left-ruled states and Maharashtra.



New Delhi: Normal life was disrupted in
several parts of the country during the `Bharat Bandh` called
by a combined Opposition today in protest against fuel price
hike with the greatest impact felt in NDA and Left-ruled
states and Maharashtra.

Sporadic incidents of violence in which buses and trains
were targeted and clashes with police who baton charged the
protestors were reported during the day-long nation-wide
strike.

Several top NDA leaders including BJP president Nitin
Gadkari and his colleagues Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley and
JD(U) Chief Sharad Yadav courted arrest while leading protest
rallies in Delhi and Lucknow.

CPI-M leader Brinda Karat and CPI`s top brass--A B
Bardhan and D Raja--also courted arrest during the bandh in a
show of strength by the opposition trying to make common cause
on the price rise issue to corner the Congress.

Security personnel were out in full strength to ensure
there was no major law and order problem while hundreds of
bandh supporters were taken into preventive custody.

Banking operations largely remained unaffected.

Jaitley and CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat
claimed the bandh was an "unprecedented success".

"This protest has been widely supported by the average
common man because he is really the target of the government`s
policies," Jaitley said.

Scores of flights were grounded in commercial airline
hubs such as Mumbai and Kolkata while protesters attacked
buses and trains, blocked roads with burning tyres and
organised sit-down protests on key road intersections and
inter-city railway links. Several trains were also forcibly
stopped.

Schools, colleges and business establishments remained
closed as groups of protestors hit streets trying to enforce
the 12-hour bandh in some cities.

Life was thrown out of gear in NDA-ruled Bihar, Gujarat,
Orissa, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttrakhand and
Himachal Pradesh while it was a shutdown in Left-ruled West
Bengal and Kerala. There was also a disruption of road and
rail traffic.

Several IT firms closed shop in Bangalore as a
precautionary measure.

Normal life was also hit in Congress-NCP ruled
Maharashtra--mainly in Mumbai and Pune-- while the bandh had a
lukewarm response in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Haryana
where UPA is in power.

The bandh did not evoke much response in the national
capital barring in some areas where BJP and Left activists
blocked road and rail traffic and forcibly shut shops.

Buses, autos and private vehicles were on the roads
since morning while offices reported more than average
attendance. However, Metro commuters faced some hardships as
BJP workers organised protests at some stations, including the
busy Rajiv Chowk.

Services at the Inter-State Bus Terminals at Anand Vihar
and Kashmere Gate here were also affected during the morning
hours with BJP workers blocking its entrances.

"Wrong economic policies and bad governance of the
government are the basic reasons of price rise," Gadkari said
addressing a rally at Chandni Chowk area here.

Flights to and from Mumbai airport were severely
disrupted, with domestic airlines cancelling 45 departures and
39 arrivals. Taxis and auto-rickshaws were also off the road
in the country`s financial capital.

In West Bengal and Kerala, air, rail and road services
were severely affected. Only Air India flights operated out of
NSC Bose International Airport in Kolkata as streets wore a
deserted look in the eastern metropolis where CITU gave the
strike call.

Several persons were injured in as BJP and SP workers
clashed with police in Lucknow where BJP leader Arun Jaitley
and Samajwadi`s Akhilesh Yadav were arrested.

Besides the BJP, those participating in the bandh are
Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, JD-U, CPI-M, CPI, Forward Bloc,
RSP, AIADMK, MDMK, TDP, BJD, JD(S), AGP, Akali Dal and
INLD.

PTI

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