A bandh called by NDA, Left parties and SP to protest against diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap on subsidised LPG on Thursday evoked mixed response as protestors disrupted road and rail traffic in parts of UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha but it had little impact in Mumbai.

In Delhi, most of the markets remained closed and vehicular movement was normal though protesters blocked traffic at some places.

Shops in some areas like Bhogal, Laxmi Nagar, Defence Colony and South Extension in the capital were open in the morning hours but though big markets like Khan Market, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk and Kashmere Gate were shut.

Auto rickshaws plied in the city and buses of state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) were on the roads in large numbers. At New Delhi railway station, auto drivers staged a protests and refused to carry passengers.

However, most of the private schools in Delhi remained closed. BJP supporters blocked vehicular movement on Vikas Marg.

A BJP spokesperson said the party will be staging protests at around 100 locations in the capital.

A senior Delhi Police official said a large number of personnel have been deployed. “We have ensured that every major road has police presence,” he said.

Samajwadi Party and BJP workers staged demonstrations and stopped trains at a number of places in Uttar Pradesh.

Protestors stopped trains in Mathura, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad and Lucknow while BJP workers and traders blocked the Agra-Gwalior Highway by burning tyres.

Major markets remained closed at a number of places in UP, including in the state capital, official sources in Licknow.

Raising slogans against FDI in retail, a group of SP workers held a demonstration outside the Walmart store at Sultanpur in Lucknow. The party also protested outside Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Hazratganj.

The bandh evoked little response in Mumbai owing to Ganesh festivities across Maharashtra. Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have kept away from the day-long bandh due to the festival.

Road and train services were also hit in several parts of Bihar. A group of BJP workers blocked rail traffic at Patna junction and stopped movement of a number of long distance express and passenger trains.

Life in the Kolkata and elsewhere in West Bengal was disrupted due to the 12—hour bandh called by Left parties.

Though airport services were normal, train services in Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway were disrupted, officials said.

Howrah-Pune Duranto Express, which started from Howrah on time, was stopped by the squatters here, railway sources said.

Services of the Metro rail, Kolkata’s lifeline, were normal, officials said.

Airport sources said the flight operations were normal in Kolkata airport, except cancellation of two Indigo flights -- Kolkata-New Delhi and Kolkata-Agartala which were scheduled to fly in the morning.

Normal life was affected in Odisha, barring the western region, due to disruption in train and road traffic during the bandh called separately by BJP and Left parties to protest the recent decisions of UPA government.

While state government offices, banks and insurance services remained closed on the occasion of “Nuakhai”, a major festival of western districts of the state, organisers of the dawn-to-dusk shut-down have kept the celebrations out of the purview of the protest.

In Karnataka, the bandh affected normal life as shops and offices chose to remain shut. Only essential commodities like milk and medical services are available but all schools and colleges were closed. The Secretariat in Bangalore wore a deserted look but the high court and lower courts were functioning.

In Congress-ruled Rajasthan, the bandh call got a mixed response. In Jaipur, major markets and business establishments remained closed and public transport was hit partially as many private buses and autorickshaws remained off road.

SP workers hold demonstrations, stop train

Samajwadi Party workers held demonstrations in some parts of Uttar Pradesh and stopped a train in Allahabad in support of the bandh against FDI in retail and hike in diesel prices.

Raising slogans against FDI in retail, a group of workers held a demonstration outside the Walmart store at Sultanpur here.

A group of workers also held a protest outside Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Hazratganj.

Reports of similar protests also poured in from other districts including Allahabad where activists of the youth wing of the ruling SP stopped the Bareilly-bound Triveni Express at 5.30 AM on Niranjan railway bridge.

They protesters assembled in large numbers along the railway tracks and also burnt the effigies of the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The agitation delayed the onward journey of the train by an hour.

Senior SP leaders including SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav are likely to hold a protest later in the day against hike in diesel and LPG prices and allowing FDI in retail.

SP has directed its workers not to take law in their hands and hold peaceful protest, SP spokesman Rajendra Chowhdury said.

Bandh affects normal life in Bengal

Life in Kolkata and elsewhere in West Bengal was disrupted by a 12-hour bandh called by Left parties to protest diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap on subsidised LPG.

Though airport services were normal, train services in Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway were disrupted, officials said.

Running of trains in South Eastern Railway to and from Howrah were disrupted since 8.30 AM due to obstruction caused by protesters at Ramrajatala station.

Howrah-Pune Duranto Express, which started from Howrah on time, was stopped by the squatters, railway sources said.

Eastern Railway spokesperson said that train services on Howrah division of ER were disrupted as bandh supporters blocked rail tracks at several stations. The obstructions were made at Katwa, Jougram, Agradeep, Ahemedpur, Bagnapara, Bhadreswar, Baidyabati and other stations.

Six long-distance trains reached Howrah this morning before the bandh started. He said that in Sealdah division of ER, train services were disrupted as bandh supporters obstructed rail traffic at Bongaon, Hasnabad and Diamond Harbour sections, he said.

However, train services were normal in Sealdah-Dankuni, Sealdah main line upto Kalyani, Namkhana-Sealdah and Budge Budge-Sealdah sections.

Services of the underground Metro rail, the city’s lifeline, were normal, officials said.

Airport sources said the flight operations were normal in Kolkata airport, except cancellation of two Indigo flights -- Kolkata-New Delhi and Kolkata-Agartala which were scheduled to fly in the morning.

Mixed response in Tamil Nadu

The bandh called by NDA and Left parties against the Centre’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and hike in diesel prices evoked a mixed response in Tamil Nadu.

No untoward incident was reported so far from across the state and the protest was so far peaceful, police said.

Government-run buses were on the road. However, autos affiliated to Left unions kept off the road even as a large number of commercial establishments and shops downed their shutters to join the protest.

Schools and educational institutions remained open today and it was business as usual with government departments.

The strike had little impact on airport operations as morning flights, both international and domestic numbering around 51 (till 10 am), departed and arrived on time.

A majority of the 3000-odd vegetable shops at the Koyambedu wholesale market remained closed, a representative of the vendors’ association said.

DMK, a key constituent in the Congress-led UPA coalition at the Centre, had expressed its support with its labour wing, Labour Progressive Front, participating in Thursday’s protest.

Party chief M Karunanidhi had blamed the Centre for further burdening the common man, who was already reeling under the impact of hike in power tariff, bus fares and milk prices effected by the Jayalalithaa government.

He had asked his party members to extend “full co-operation” for the protest in a “peaceful” and “successful manner“.

Meanwhile, a report from Puducherry said the bandh was near total in the Union Territory.

While private buses and autos went off the roads, government-run buses operated under convoy system. All shops and business establishments remained closed.

Government schools functioned with less attendance of students and private schools remained closed. Attendance in government offices was normal, official sources said.

Rahi Gaikwad from Mumbai adds

No impact of bandh in Maharashtra

The nationwide bandh against hike in fuel prices and FDI in multi-brand retail did not evoke any significant response in Maharashtra, with the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena opting out.

“Only the trader and transport associations are participating in it. There is no impact. No untoward incident has been reported,” the State control told The Hindu.

Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra told The Hindu that the bandh had elicited a good response outside Mumbai.

“The wholesale markets are completely shut. In some places retail outlets have also downed shutters. The Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi, nal bazaar in Mumbai, the timber and metal markets are all shut. Shops are shut in Nagpur,” Mr. Gurnani said.

“The experience all over the world has been that millions small traders have been wiped out. How can the government not see it? The impact will be equally bad in India. It will destroy the social fabric,” he said.

The BJP said response to the bandh was good. All essential services and modes of public transport were running smoothly.

The Sena had decided not to join the bandh in view of the Ganpati celebrations in the State.

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