The nationwide bandh called by the Opposition against the Centre's hike in fuel prices threw normal life out of gear in many parts of the country on Monday.
The 12-hour hartal by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, the Left parties and their secular allies hit air, rail and road traffic in different States.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari, senior leader Rajnath Singh, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan, deputy general secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy, and national secretaries D. Raja and Atul Anjaan courted arrest here, while Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu did so in Lucknow and Hyderabad.
While the NDA and Left parties gave separate calls for the hartal, the response led to a unanimous conclusion that it was an “unprecedented success.''
Reports from Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, and Kerala, said the hartal was complete, while it was partial in Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Delhi.
Police turned out in strength in various parts as reports of protesters squatting on the rail track affecting movement of trains came from eastern States.
Public transport was hit in some parts, while reports of baton-charge by police and sporadic violence came from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. Instances of traffic stoppage were reported from several cities including Delhi.
Movement of rail traffic was affected in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, while about 40 flights from Kolkata and Mumbai were cancelled with airlines reporting a drop in traffic.
Schools and colleges in many States remained shut and banking services were affected in States where the BJP and the Left parties and their allies are in power. The All India Motor Transport Congress said 62 lakh commercial vehicles stayed off the road in response to the protest call.
Mr. Sharad Yadav said the protest could not have been a success but for the turnout by the people. CPI (M) genereal secretary Prakash Karat said the Centre should heed the voice of the people and roll back the hike.