Mixed response to VHP shutdown in Pilibhit

April 1st, 2009 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), April 1 (IANS) The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)-called shutdown to protest young Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi’s arrest received a mixed response in this Uttar Pradesh district Wednesday.
Although most of the shops in the main markets of the city remained closed in the morning, commercial activity resumed gradually as the day progressed.

No protest demonstration was organised in view of the Section 144 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC in force.

The VHP is protesting the detention of Varun Gandhi under the stringent NSA, slapped by the Uttar Pradesh government Sunday for “inciting violence” prior to his arrest on charges of vilifying Muslims in his speeches last month.

The VHP claimed that the business community volunteered in support of Varun Gandhi - who is likely to be BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate in Pilibhit.

“The VHP has only called for the shutdown and never issued any diktat,” Deepak Agarwal, district party chief, told IANS.

Shops in the main Katra market - the business hub of Pilibhit - saw business as usual amid heavy deployment of forces.

“The market is functional today,” said Nizamuddin Ansari, president of the Pilibhit Vyapar Mandal.

District magistrate Ajay Chauhan told IANS: “No one has been forced to close his shop.

“We have deployed police force at all the vital locations and senior administrative and police officers are moving around the city,” Chauhan added.

However, shops on the Bareilly-New Delhi national highway were shut.

“It is just a precautionary step, as there is very thin customer movement today,” said Ajit Pal Singh, a confectionary shopkeeper in Civil Lines area.

Normal life was, however, paralysed in the city centre. A roadside tea vendor, who reached the otherwise busy Chatri crossing at his usual time around 7 a.m., also decided to close down.

“When big businesses are not open, I thing I should also enjoy a break,” said Rameshwar Lodh, as he closed his stall.

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