New Delhi: Commuters in Delhi faced a tough time on Thursday as autos and taxis remained off the roads and metro trains and buses were packed to capacity with the two-day Bharat bandh called by 11 major trade unions entering second day.

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However, the strike proved to be a bonanza for cycle rickshaw-pullers as some of them charged double the usual fare. With autorickshaws and taxis remaining off roads, a huge rush was witnessed at the Delhi Metro stations and in buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation across the city.

"We will continue to be on strike today (on Thursday). About 70,000 autorickshaws and 20,000 taxis will keep off the roads. However, some autos will be allowed to ply to help commuters reach hospitals in case of medical emergencies," Rajendra Soni of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh said.

Soni, who represents a section of autorickshaw drivers, said last year alone the CNG prices were raised nine times but the government did not revise the auto fares. The trade unions have called the two-day strike after their talks with the government failed.

The unions have demanded concrete measures for containing inflation, steps for employment generation, universal social security, and fixing the minimum wage at Rs.10,000 per month along with daily allowance.

"We tried our best to avoid the strike, as it will bring in lot of inconvenience to the public. But the government made us go for the strike, as they denied our genuine demands. We apologise to the public for the inconvenience. But to achieve something, one has to bear certain inconvenience," P. Jayaraju, secretary, Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC) told.

According to the union leaders, the first day of the strike (on Wednesday) saw participation from several sectors including banking, public sector defence units, industry, hotels, financial institutions and taxi and auto drivers and the same would continue on Thursday.

A DTC official said: "The Delhi government is plying around 5,117 DTC buses, in addition to 6,153 RTV (rural transport vehicles) and 1,870 mini-buses, to facilitate the public." Delhi Metro officials said they have deployed additional staff at stations across the city to manage the surging crowds besides putting on standby some extra trains on each line.

The two-day strike has been called jointly by the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) and other such central organisations.

Protesters attack factories in Delhi

New Delhi: A flash mob attacked at least eight factories in the capital on Thursday during the final day of a two-day nationwide strike called by major trade unions, police said.

Hundreds raising slogans against the government's economic policies suddenly attacked the garment factories in the Okhla industrial estate in south Delhi.

Police detained some of the attackers."The situation is now under control," Additional Commissioner of Police Ajay Chaudhary said.


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