New Delhi: The nationwide bandh called by the NDA and Left parties to protest the petrol price hike on Thursday evoked a mixed response amid incidents of stone pelting, arson and road blockades in Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

In the national capital, the bandh did not evoke much response though the workers of the political parties especially of the BJP blocked traffic at some places.

READ MORE: Bandh a huge success: Nitin Gadkari

Small shops remained open in many areas in the morning while commuters complained that there were less autos on roads as a number of auto and taxi unions had joined the protest.

In the financial capital, Mumbai, bandh supporters pelted stones at buses in two suburban areas of the city. Elsewhere in Maharashtra, activists pelted stones at 13 buses in Pune, 10 in Nagpur and Thane districts and stopped some buses by blocking roads in Satara district.

Local trains and buses were plying as usual in most parts of Mumbai. Most of the film studios including Filmcity, Filmistan, Mehboob and Filmalaya either had no bookings for shooting or cancelled their scheduled shoots.

The bandh disrupted normal life in parts of BJP-ruled Karnataka where bandh supporters set on fire three buses and pelted stoned on nearly a dozen others forcing authorities to withdraw bus services in the city. Public transport was badly hit and shops and business establishments remained closed in several parts of Karnataka.

There was no impact of the bandh in Kerala and a lukewarm response to the stir in Tamil Nadu.

In West Bengal, bandh supporters blocked some roads in some areas and squatted on railway tracks. Bandh supporters blocked the Howrah Bridge, which connects the metropolis to the Howrah district. They also blocked roads in Barasat, Bankura, Budge  and some other places, police said.

However, buses, cars, taxis, trams were running in the metropolis though in less number.

Normal life was affected in Punjab due to the strike. Commercial establishments in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Batala, Kapurthala, Pathankot and Amritsar remained closed, though factories and other industrial units were operational.

The impact of bandh was also visible on the transport network with buses including private ones remaining off the road, causing inconvenience to people, as per reports pouring in from various districts including Patiala, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Kapurthala.

However, in Chandigarh, shops and commercial establishments remained open and buses were plying as usual.

In Congress-led Haryana, the bandh call did not evoke much response with shops and commercial establishments remaining open at most of the places in the state.

Markets were closed in major cities of Rajasthan and private buses off the road due to the bandh.

In BJP-led Gujarat, shops and commercial establishments remained closed in Ahmedabad even as the state government suspended bus services in the city after buses were pelted with stones by the protesters. BJP workers also tried to block rail traffic.

Tourists are the worst affected lot in Meghalaya as they were stranded in their hotel rooms and lodging places as taxis are off the road in most parts of the state.

Road blockades, dharnas and deflated tyres of state-owned RTC buses marked the bandh in Andhra Pradesh. Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the main opposition in the state, also extended support to the bandh.

Private bus operators suspended their services in Bihar as bandh supporters burnt tyres and logs on the state and national highways to enforce the bandh.

The SP workers raised slogans against the UPA government in Uttar Pradesh and urged traders not to open shops to make the bandh successful.

The Left parties also took out a cycle march, and held road side plays to highlight the plight of the common man due to petrol price rise.

In Firozabad, SP workers tried to stop the trains but the situation was timely control.

In Assam, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh, Schools and colleges, financial institutions and banks were closed and government offices reported very thin attendance, while vehicular traffic was off the roads.

In Goa, tourist taxis, private buses and even auto rickshaws were off roads fearing attack by protestors. Siolim bridge linking the North Goa to Bardez and Tiswadi talukas was also blocked.

Roads wore a deserted look in many districts of Jharkhand like Ranchi, Hazaribagh, West and East Singhbhum, Dumka, Latehar, Palamau, Gumla, Sahebganj and Lohardaga with bus and truck owners deciding to suspend their services.

The unprecedented hike in petrol prices has helped the Left and the right to make common cause for the nationwide protest, described by BJP and its allies as Bharat Bandh and by Left as All India Protest Day.

This is the second time that the BJP, Left and other non-Congress parties will be coordinating their agitations since the last Lok Sabha elections to give the impression of a wider Opposition unity on issues concerning people.

A similar agitation against petrol price hike had happened on July 5, 2010.

Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, which is supporting the UPA government from outside, has also given the bandh call as has BJD in Odisha.

In the wake of countrywide protest against petrol price hike LJP Supremo Ram Bilas Paswan claimed that the NDA had no moral right in calling for a nationwide bandh.
"The NDA has no moral right to call a Bharat bandh. If the NDA was so concerned over the issue, it's government in Bihar should have withdrawn tax on petrol. It would have enabled people to buy petrol at Rs 52 per litre," Paswan told reporters.

Several party leaders arrested
In Bihar, NDA Convener and JD-U national president Sharad Yadav and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain were among 800 activists taken into custody while enforcing the bandh.

Yadav, who along with 700 odd supporters took out processions in Saharsa town to enforce the call, was taken into custody.

Hussain, the BJP National Spokesman, and others were detained in Bhagalpur town while trying to enforce the bandh.

Yadav demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign immediately for the "failure" of his government to control the spiralling prices of petroleum products and essential commodities.

Whereas, Left leaders Prakash Karat, A B Bardhan and Sitaram Yechury courted arrested along with a number of their supporters in central Delhi as part of their protest against petrol price hike.


Latest news from India News Desk