Bharat bandh evokes mixed response, Kerala one of worst-hit states
Life was disrupted in many parts of the country on Friday by the strike called by trade unions against the government’s “anti-labour” policies. Public transport, banking and mining sectors were the worst-hit, and protesting workers were detained in Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
The central trade unions said the strike was successful as around 18 crore workers came out on the streets to support the agitation. The government, however, said sectors such as railways, civil aviation and major ports remained “unaffected”, while banking and insurance, coal, telecom and defence production were “partially affected”. A look at how the strike played out in the states:
The strike failed to have a major impact, the state government said. In Kolkata, public transport functioned normally amid heavy police presence. However, with the Left calling for the strike, and the TMC declaring the day ‘Singur Divas’ and calling for celebration, many apprehended trouble and decided to stay home. Most shops and markets were open, but all banks were closed.
“Under the CM’s guidance, it was possible to make it an unsuccessful strike… It was clearly a failed attempt by the opposition,” said Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikary. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced an extra holiday for those who worked despite the strike.
Meanwhile, CITU president Shyamal Chakraborty maintained that people had “willingly participated in the strike” and accused the TMC of “trying to incite violence at some places”. He was referring to a clash between CPM supporters and TMC workers in Behala, Kolkata. Several CPM supporters were detained.
Nearly 270 bandh supporters, including Siliguri Mayor Ashok Bhattacharya, were arrested across the state, police said. In Cooch Behar, 24 strike supporters were arrested while minor scuffles were reported in Shyambazar, Moulali and Jadavpur, where CPM secretary Surya Kanta Mishra and Left Front Chairman Biman Basu were leading rallies.
The strike failed to make significant impact in Mumbai and most parts of Maharashtra. Suburban transport systems in the capital operated normally. Activists claimed the bandh evoked good response in the industrial belts. Attendance at government offices was a little lower than average.
Public transport stayed off the roads and shops and business establishments downed shutters. Major roads were deserted in the state capital. Hundreds of employees of ISRO units could not reach their offices as strike supporters laid siege on an ISRO bus bay. Some vehicles of Technopark employees were also blocked.
Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh
Services including banking and public transport were hit in Haryana, Punjab and Union Territory Chandigarh with employees of various government departments joining one-day nationwide strike to protest against ‘anti-labour’ policies of the government. Employees of departments like roadways, electricity, health, corporations held demonstrations at various places in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. At some places, employees claimed the district administration “forcefully” asked roadways employees to ply buses.
At prestigious health institution Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), various planned surgeries were today postponed in the wake of around 2,000 nurses joining the nationwide strike call given by All India Government Nurses Federation.
Activists staged rail roko in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Behrampur, Sambalpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jaleswar, Keonjhar and Rayagada, police said. Over two dozen passenger and express trains were delayed. Buses, trucks, auto-rickshaws and other vehicles kept off the roads with protesters staging blockades at many places. Shops and business establishments were closed. Government offices recorded thin attendance.
The strike evoked mixed response. As state-run buses stayed off the roads, office-goers had a harrowing time commuting. Shops, establishments, markets and hotels were open. Metro services were also running.
Banking operations came to a standstill as over 15,000 employees of various banks participated in the strike. All India Bank Employees Association Joint Secretary B S Rambabu said demonstrations would be held in all district headquarters. Most buses run by Telangana State Road Transport Organisation stayed off the roads. Industrial parks witnessed thin attendance.