School and college buses also were operated on incident-free bandh day; majority of autorickshaws off road
The dawn-to-dusk bandh call given by some political parties, trade and industrial bodies among others led to demonstrations, agitations and road blockades in Madurai on Thursday.
While attendance in many government offices was thin, shops and commercial establishments, including hotels and restaurants, remained closed to show their protest against the Union government’s decision to permit foreign direct investment in retail trade. The agitators also demanded immediate rollback of the diesel price of Rs. 5 “as it hit hard on common man” and wanted to withdraw the restriction imposed on consumption of domestic LPG refill.
Police officers deployed on bandobust duty said that Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses plied as usual from morning. Vehicles operated by educational institutions also functioned and there were no incidents of any violence.
A TNSTC official said that with the help of daily wage earners, the gap due to the absence of permanent staff in the technical side was filled to a great extent and operations were carried out smoothly.
In Madurai, out of the roughly 6,000 workforce, 2,000 remained absent from work on Thursday. In Virudhunagar a little over 400 were absent and in Dindigul 650 staffs abstained from work.
The officials said that on some routes bus services were affected but there were no complaints from travvellers. Due to high absenteeism in depots such as Tirupparankundram, K. Pudur and Ponmeni, the operation was hit and the vehicles could be moved out very late. Around 20 per cent of the daily operation, in terms of kilometres, may have suffered due to the bandh, he said.
Vegetable markets, including the wholesale market near Maatuthavani, wore a deserted look as the vendors did not arrive, according to officials in-charge of the operations.
But for some autorickshaws run by the AIADMK affiliated trade union members, a majority of them associated with Communists and other parties stayed off the road. Advocates led by Madurai Bar Association secretary A.K. Ramasamy boycotted works. The Tamil Nadu Vanigargal Sangam and Vanigargal Peramaippu members staged a demonstration on Scott Road condemning the Central government on the FDI issue. They also demanded rollback of the diesel price.
Elsewhere in the district, 1,029 members were arrested from 29 places when they resorted to road blockade and agitations and they were let off in the evening. There were no incidents of any violence. Police had deployed adequate personnel at all vantage locations including Central government offices, a police officer said.