Leh: Normal life came to a standstill in Leh town on Saturday due to a bandh called by tour operators in protest against the exorbitant airfares and poor air service to the region.

The bandh was supported by various political parties and religious groups. Shops and business establishments remained closed and market places wore a deserted look. A protest march from the town's main bazaar area attracted thousands of demonstrators who raised slogans against the government and the civil aviation sector for steep hikes in airfares and expressed their ire at poor frequency of the air service between Leh and Delhi and other sectors.

The procession ended at the Leh polo ground where leaders from different groups addressed the gathering. "In winter, the air service is the only mode of transport, taking advantage of that monopoly, airlines have hiked fares at will.

"Normally a ticket from Delhi to Leh costs Rs 5,000, but these days, the cost of a ticket from Delhi to Leh ranges between Rs 20,000 to Rs 27,000," said Kunzang Namgail, the President of the Ladakh tour operators' body.

(Agencies)

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