Bandhs paralyse cities for second consecutive day (Roundup)

June 6th, 2008 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) For the second consecutive day, bandhs and agitations protesting against the central government’s fuel price hike paralysed life in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Tripura. A day after the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) organised a bandh in West Bengal against the fuel price hike, the Left’s main opposition Trinamool Congress Friday forced a shut down, bringing life to a standstill for the second consecutive day in the state.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner Telugu Desam Party (TDP) joined the Communists in Andhra Pradesh to protest the hike.

In Orissa, Communist Party of India-Marxist and Communist Party of India cadres squatted on railway tracks and took out demonstrations.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government Wednesday announced an increase in the prices of petrol by Rs.5 a litre, diesel by Rs.3 per litre and cooking gas by Rs.50 per cylinder.

The decision sparked a wave of protests with UPA allies and opposition parties announcing protest actions, which began Thursday with day-long bandhs organized in the Left-ruled states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.

In Andhra Pradesh, the day-long shut-down Friday organized by the main opposition TDP, along with the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Communist Party of India paralysed life in Hyderabad. Transport services came to a halt and businesses remained shut. Universities had to reschedule entrance examinations.

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which is fighting for separate statehood for Telangana, also joined the bandh. The BJP organized rail blockades.

Protesters laid siege to bus stations and depots of the state-owned Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) in all 23 districts early morning and did not allow the buses to come out. TRS activists also damaged a few buses in Medak and Nizamabad districts.

For the second day, over 25,000 cabs and private buses remained off the roads, badly hitting the information technology companies and call centres and people wanting to reach airports or railway stations.

Few of the APSRTC buses were seen plying in the state capital Hyderabad or other major towns. The state-owned corporation has a fleet of 20,000 buses, which carry 10 million passengers daily.

In West Bengal, the dawn-to-dusk protest, for the second consecutive day, led to disruption in train services and postponement of university examinations. Businesses remained shut down.

Flight services were not affected but passengers had trouble reaching the NSC Bose International Airport with very few taxis and buses plying.

Trinamool Congress supporters squatted on railway tracks, paralysing train movement.

“We have cancelled eight long-distance trains. Trains have been detained at various stations as the agitators are sitting on railway tracks. We cannot run local trains also because of the blockade,” said South Eastern Railway public relations officer R.N. Mahapatra.

Some markets opened in Kolkata, but there were few buyers and fewer sellers.

“I had opened my shop Thursday, but some violent CPI-M supporters forced me to down shutters. They asked me to keep my shop open Friday to foil the Trinamool shutdown. I am tense. I don’t know what to do,” said Nirmal Kumar Panda, who has a shop at the Manicktala market in the northern part of the metropolis.

No untoward incident has been reported from any part of the state, he said.

A dawn-to-dusk shutdown in Tripura called by the opposition Trinamool Congress failed to have any impact - in contrast to the ruling Left’s bandh call Thursday that brought the state to a standstill. Shops and business establishments, government and semi-government offices, and financial and educational institutions remained open. Traffic on the roads was normal.

But state Trinamool Congress chairman Arun Chandra Bhowmik claimed: “In most parts of the state, the shutdown was total and successful.”

“We have deployed adequate security forces in all important locations and installations,” said police spokesman Nepal Das. He said the police had arrested about 70 strike supporters.

“The strike is peaceful across the state,” Das added.

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