HYDERABAD: The bandh sponsored by the Opposition parties to focus public anger against the hike in prices of petroleum products evoked near total response in the State on Friday.
Normal life was thrown out of gear as shops and establishments were forcibly closed by activists of Telugu Desam, CPI, CPI (M), BJP and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Passenger traffic was worst-affected as the demonstrators staged rail and rasta roko and took out rallies in all important cities and towns. Police rounded up hundreds and released them later. In the State capital and surrounding areas, about 4,000 political workers were taken into custody.
The APSRTC withdrew its services till afternoon as the activists squatted in front of the bus stations and depots and refused to allow plying of the fleet. Where the movement of buses was noticed, the activists made them immobile by deflating tyres. Highways and other roads wore a deserted look.
Several important trains were also detained. Among them was the New Delhi-bound AP Express which was twice held up at Nampally and Secunderabad railway stations. The New Delhi–Bangalore Karnataka Express stopped in Anantapur town for two hours.
Violence in Khammam
The bandh call took a violent turn in Khammam town where CPI cadre attacked RTC buses, autorickshaws, shops and a forest office. Even moving private cars were not spared. A mob trespassed into the spot valuation centre of Intermediate Advance Supplementary exams and demanded the staff to stop work. They even threatened to snatch the answer sheets.
TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu suspended his road show as part of his ‘Mee Kosam’ programme and rode a bullock-cart in Eluru town. The cart towed a motorcycle to symbolise that the vehicle had lost utility because of petrol price hike.
Mr. Naidu later participated in mass cooking and squatted on the road nearby.
The agitation was not without a comic situation as Panchayat Raj Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy joined the demonstrators when his convoy was held up near Anantapur town.
He sat with them on the road and left only after the police shifted him by their vehicle. Former Speaker K. Pratibha Bharati registered her protest by travelling in a rickshaw in Srikakulam town.