Nationwide stir: Maharashtra grinds to a halt (Lead)

July 5th, 2010 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Mumbai, July 5 (IANS) Nearly 100 flights were cancelled, most schools and offices remained shut while bus and rail services were disrupted in large parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Monday due to the opposition’s nationwide strike against rising prices.
The business and trading communities supported the shutdown by not opening shops and commercial establishments, while the state government made futile attempts to keep services like buses and railways functional.

Flight operations were badly hit with nearly 100 flights cancelled owing to poor patronage. Some flights were clubbed together.

Nearly all schools and colleges across the state remained closed for the day. Similarly, most offices were shut in the city’s business districts like Andheri, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Worli, Nariman Point, Mulund and Ghatkopar.

In Borivli and Andheri, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like Gopal Shetty and Gopinath Munde tried to stop suburban trains and were arrested along with nearly 200 supporters.

According to police, protesters tried to disrupt suburban and long distance trains at several places in the city and state. Public services were also affected as demonstrators pelted stones and damaged nearly 100 BEST buses and around 60 state transport buses damaged in places like Nashik, Pune, Dhule and Vidarbha.

Several long-distance trains, including the Sinhagad Express near Pune, and Vidarbha Express near Amravati were stopped in their tracks by agitators.

While taxis and autorickshaws went off roads, railway officials said suburban trains were functioning.

Thanks to the absence of vehicles, several roads in Mumbai and the suburbs were transformed into playgrounds with children playing cricket and other games.

In Vidarbha region, a group of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) supporters locked up the district agriculture offices in Yavatmal district. The police arrived around lunch time and broke open the locks.

VJAS president Kishor Tiwari said the shutdown was “a total success with the spontaneous participation of the people, including thousands of poor farmland widows”.

In Nagpur, police caned protesting BJP workers and held 50 activists who tried to disrupt traffic by sqautting on the roads.

Miscreants put some burning cardboards on the railway tracks near Thane, while at least six buses and five autorickshaws were damaged by stone-pelting mobs.

Shiv Sainiks tried to stop suburban trains outside Borivli. Attempts were made to stop trains at Mulund station as well but security officials foiled the plans and detained 50 people.

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