The bandh on Thursday in response to a call by the non-UPA parties to protest the increase in the price of diesel was near-total in Mangalore and other parts of Dakshina Kannada. While buses remained off the road till evening, autorickshaws were available throughout the day. Most of the autorickshaw drivers charged higher than the usual fare. There was no disruption in the movement of trains.
The roads in the city looked deserted until evening in the absence of city buses, the lifeline of the coastal city’s public transport.
The private bus operators had expressed support to the nationwide bandh call. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation had withdrawn all the services till 3 p.m.
Besides protesting the increase in diesel price, the bandh was called to denounce the cap on the number of subsidised domestic LPG cylinders and allowing Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail sector.
Almost all shops and business establishments, except medical shops, downed their shutters. In Urwa Market, M.G. Road, and K.S. Rao Road some party activists forced shopkeepers to down their shutters.
A large number of people, some of them returning after taking a break for the festival, were stranded at the KSRTC bus stand. P. Lokesh, who was waiting for a bus to reach Udupi, said: “As I did not get direct bus from Bangalore last night to Udupi, I boarded a bus going towards Mangalore thinking that I can get a bus from here. The services had stopped by the time I came here at 7 a.m.”
J. Thomas, who was waiting for a bus to go to Thrissur, said: “I heard that buses were plying normally in Kerala. When I asked here, they are asking me to wait till 5 p.m. even to catch a Kerala Road Transport bus.”
The situation was slightly better at the Mangalore Central Railway Station where the pre-paid autorickshaw counter functioned.
Passengers coming out of the railway station were taken in the autorickshaw as per the fare notified by the Regional Transport Office. For those travelling to far-off places such as Surathkal and Padubidri, autorickshaw drivers charged 50 per cent more than the scheduled fare.
An autorickshaw driver demanded Rs. 600 from S. Selvarajan, a native of Tamil Nadu, to take him to Padubidri where he had to report for duty. After waiting for a couple of hours, he managed to hire an autorickshaw for Rs. 400.
P.M. Raghunandan, Deputy Station Manager, Mangalore Central Railway Station, said the bandh had resulted in a slight shortfall in the number of passengers, which was about 30,000 a day. There were no changes in the train schedule either at the Central Railway Station or at the Mangalore Junction Railway Station. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party workers led by MP Nalin Kumar Kateel staged a protest at the PVS Circle and at the Mangalore Central Railway station.
Our Udupi Special Correspondent reports:
The bandh passed off peacefully in the district with most of the business establishments downing their shutters. However, medical shops, a few flower shops, small provision stores and travel agencies, were open in some areas.
The members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (Secular) “requested” some shopkeepers who had “defied” the bandh call to close down. Schools and colleges did not function while the attendance at the Government offices was thin. Autorickshaws and taxis operated as usual.
Since the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses, private buses, both within the city and inter-district, were off the road, bus stands were nearly deserted throughout the day. Taking advantage of the empty space, some cricket enthusiasts played their favourite game at the city bus stand while the deserted service bus stand attracted many stray dogs.
A few long-distance passengers were stranded at the KSRTC Bus Stand. George Joseph from Kannur had arrived here to catch a bus to Shimoga. “I forgot there was a ‘bandh’. I am waiting from 7 a.m. here to go to Shimoga to meet my son. Now I will have to till the evening,” he said.
Rudramma from Chitradurga had difficulty in finding a bus that could take her back. She had come to the temple town to visit her daughter who worked in the civil court here. “I came at the bus stand at 8 a.m. I was not aware of the bandh,” she said.
S.A. Madiwal, Traffic Controller at the KSRTC Bus Stand, said buses had not left the depot since 7 a.m.
The Janata Dal (Secular) took out a procession from its office to Mosque Road here. The BJP staged a demonstration at the Clock Tower near Service Bus Stand protesting against the increase in diesel price. The bandh was incident-free in Kundapur and Karkala.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) took out a procession from Shastri Circle to New Bus and back to Shastri Circle in Kundapur.
Superintendent of Police M.B. Boralingaiah told The Hindu that no untoward incident had been reported from any part of the district. Protesters belonging to the BJP had blocked the road for five to 10 minutes in around half a dozen places in the district. The density of vehicles on the road was considerably low across the district, he said.
Keywords: Bharat bandh