Lucknow: The nation-wide shutdown called by the opposition to protest hike in diesel price, cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and FDI in retail brand, has crippled the life of common man in several states across India. The All-India Bandh has resulted in hitting the road and rail traffic in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha.
Here are the compiled reports stating the affect of 'Bharat Bandh' in the above mentioned states:
The shutdown call given by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) took hundreds of workers of both the parties to the streets, raised anti-United Progressive Alliance (UPA) slogans and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Rail traffic in most important sections of the state were disrupted by BJP as well as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers.
Railway officials told reporters that schedules of more than a dozen trains have been hit by disruptions on the tracks. In Mathura, workers of both the parties blocked railway lines disrupting the all important Delhi-Mumbai route.
In Kanpur, SP workers stopped the Swarna Jayanti Express, in Ballia the Utsarg Express was stopped by BJP workers and in Bhadohi, Archana Express was stopped.
Supporters of SP climbed atop the engine of the Kisan Express and the Sabarmati Express in Jaunpur.
While the state transport buses and city transport in most cities have been spared, the auto rickshaws and other private transport have so far stayed away from the roads.
Most schools and colleges have been closed in many parts of the state, including the state capital, as a precautionary measure by their management.
SP workers locked Walmart shops in Lucknow and raised anti-FDI slogans seeking a roll back by the Congress-led UPA government.
While no notable SP leader is participating in the party's protest in the state, senior national and state BJP leaders are leading demonstrations in parts of the state.
Former national president of the BJP, Rajnath Singh, is leading the protests in Lucknow, national vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in Kanpur and the state president Laxmikant Bajpayi in Meerut.
Reports of widespread protests have also come in from Varanasi, Bareilly, Faizabad, Gorakhpur and Allahabad. No trucks are plying in the state and medicine shops have also downed shutters in support of the bandh.
A posse of police personnel have been pressed into service across the state to maintain peace, law and order.
So far, there have been no reports of violence.
Railway tracks were blocked, dozens of trains and road traffic were hit Thursday morning by supporters of the nation-wide shutdown called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Thousands of workers and leaders of NDA including Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and left parties took to the streets to enforce the shutdown across the state.
"Several trains were halted and road traffic was badly hit in Patna and its neighbourhood by supporters of the shutdown," a district police official said.
Slogan shouting protestors, mostly youth workers of JD-U clad were seen forcibly stopping trains at various railway stations since morning.
BJP's workers with party flags blocked tracks and halted trains here, a police officer said.
According to railway officials, hundreds of passengers were stranded at different railway stations since early Thursday as BJP, JD-U and Left activists disrupted train services in Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Darbhanga, Hajipur, Bhagalpur and Saharsa districts.
"Railways are soft target. The shutdown badly hit us and common passengers," a railway official told IANS on condition of anonmity.
The national and state highways were also blocked at various places.
In Patna, roads were blocked by the shutdown supporters.
"Road services were also hit as protestors were seen burning tyres. No long route-buses plied. Highways are deserted," a police officer said.
All private schools and colleges were closed in Patna in view of the shutdown.
Additional Director General Ravinder Kumar said elaborate security arrangement across state was made to maintain law and order.
"Additional security forces have been deployed in some sensitive areas," he added.
The shutdown on Thursday crippled life in many parts of Odisha as passengers and commercials vehicles went off the roads, police said.
Passengers also faced difficulties as train services were disrupted since protestors squatted on rail tracks in different places. This forced several trains to remain stranded at railway stations.
Shops downed their shutters in many places, including Cuttack, the main retail business hub of the state.
Government and private offices, schools, colleges, banks, and other financial institutions also remained shut. Protestors also carried out rallies, marches and demonstrations at different places.
In state capital Bhubaneswar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists carried out a procession shouting anti government slogans.
The shutdown, however, had less impact in western parts of the state, including Sambalpur and Bolangir town, as the annual harvest festival of Nuakhai is underway in the region and protestors had decided not to enforce the shutdown.
The opposition parties called for nationwide shutdown to protest the centre's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail sector, sharp increase in diesel prices and imposing restriction on the number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders.
In Odisha, nine non-Congress political parties, including the left parties and the BJP, had given the shutdown call separately.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal, however, stayed away from the strike saying that it will cause inconvenience to the people who are celebrating the harvest festival.
Normal life in Karnataka was affected as buses were off the roads, majority of schools, colleges and market places were shut, many IT firms declared a holiday due to the shutdown.
Attendance in government offices, banks and private firms was thin.
With Karnataka being ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is one of the parties that has called for a day's 'Bharat Bandh', response to the shutdown was good.
Hundreds of train passengers who arrived in Bangalore from different parts of the country were stranded at the three railway stations with no buses and very few autorickshaws and taxis. Those managed to get the auto or cab were fleeced.
Cinema houses also declared a holiday.
Reports from major educational and commercial towns like Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Shimoga, Davangere said normal life was disrupted with markets, schools and colleges shut and buses off the roads.
A spokesman for the state road transport corporation told reporters in Bangalore that buses in the capital and intra and inter-state services were not being run as there were no passengers at the bus stands.
"There is hardly any passenger in the main city and intra and inter-state bus stand near Kempegowda Circle in city centre. Similar was the case at other major stands like Shantinagar in central Bangalore, Jayanagar in south, Yeshwantpur in north and Vijayanagar in west," he said.
At several places in Bangalore and major towns in the state, the BJP workers took out two-wheeler rallies.
Buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) went off the roads in most parts of the state.
The road transport came to a grinding halt with over four lakh trucks across the state joining the 24-hour strike since midnight.
A section of auto-rickshaw drivers in Hyderabad and other towns too joined the strike.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions were closed in several parts of Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Nellore, Tirupati, Kurnool, Karimnagar and other towns.
Police arrested scores of opposition workers who were trying to stop buses and forcing shops to down shutters.
In Hyderabad, almost all schools and colleges were closed. The RTC was running few buses while some three-wheelers were also seen plying.
Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), the biggest bus station in the state capital wore a deserted look with RTC suspending bus services from districts. Only a few services were running with police protection.
Activists of main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), CPI, CPI-M, BJP and TRS laid siege to APSRTC depots since early Thursday to prevent buses from coming out.
Those arrested include TDP leader and former Hyderabad mayor T. Krishna Reddy, CPI state secretary K. Narayana and CPI-M leader P. Madhu. They were all held while protesting at MGBS.
Osmania University postponed all examinations and admissions to PhD. Other universities have also put off the examinations in view of the shutdown.
The bandh is being observed separately by BJP and TDP. TRS is supporting the shutdown while TDP is working with the left parties.
The trading community downed shutters of shops and commercial establishments Thursday, but Mumbai suburban trains, BEST buses, public transport and flights operated normally during the opposition-sponsored all-India shutdown, officials here said.
The shutdown call was given by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and supported by various parties like Samajwadi Party, JD(U), SAD, TDP, Left parties, transporters and others, to protest the hike in diesel prices, a cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders and allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
However, the National Democratic Alliance's key ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena has not joined the shutdown, while the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena also opted out on grounds of the ongoing 10-day Ganeshotsav festival.
The BJP Pune unit also refrained from joining the shutdown on account of Ganeshotsav and the Jain festival of Paryushan.
Adopting an aggressive stance vis-a-vis government policies, the BJP, led by senior leader Gopinath Munde and others will attempt to 'lock' the gates of Mantralaya, the state government headquarters, at Nariman Point later in the day.
Spokespersons for the Mumbai International Airport Ltd, Air India and the railways said that all operations were normal with no disruptions of any sort due to the shutdown.
There has been no impact of the shutdown barring some pockets in the state where the BJP has influence.
In Vidarbha, the shutdown impact was seen only among the small traders and shopkeepers opposing FDI in retail. Otherwise normal life was not affected.
Police have deployed tight security all over the state to ward off any untoward incidents in view of the shutdown.
Anti-government protest marches and rallies have been planned in different parts of the state later in the day.