NEW DELHI

Strike hits industrial areas, airport, banks

AIRPORT PROTEST: CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, along with airport employees, participating at a protest rally during the day-long strike at Delhi Airport on Thursday. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

AIRPORT PROTEST: CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, along with airport employees, participating at a protest rally during the day-long strike at Delhi Airport on Thursday. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy  

Stray incidents of violence in some places; people throng ATMs as bank work severely affected

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Stray incidents of stone-throwing and damage to private cars and buildings in industrial areas were reported in the Capital on Thursday as the strike by the Left trade unions, in protest against the economic policies of the United Progressive Alliance government, the privatisation of major airports and dilution of labour laws, affected operations at the airport, banks and insurance offices here.

At Indira Gandhi International Airport, the impact of the strike was visible with only two flights taking off during the first hour of the 12-hour strike. As against the operation of about 30 flights between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., the flight operations were considerably reduced as the ground staff stayed away from work. As such the non-participation of Air Traffic Control officials in the agitation was not of much help.

In view of the strike, in which about 20,000 airport employees participated, stringent security measures had been taken at the airport. While the Air Force personnel took charge of the operations, the Central Industrial Security Force had beefed up its strength to meet any contingency. A large number of Delhi police personnel were also posted at the airport.

Though there was no notice of a general strike, thousands of Left activists holding aloft flags and sticks attacked some offices in the Udyog Nagar Industrial Area at Peeragarhi in West Delhi and smashed the glass windows of buildings and the windscreens of some vehicles parked there.

One of the worst affect was the Deep Motors showroom of Hyundai at K-1 Udyog Vihar where the mob ordered all the workers out. "The activists comprised a number of jhuggi dwellers who pelted stones and smashed the vehicles without any provocation,'' said the showroom manager, Bhaskar.

The adjoining buildings also bore the brunt of the attack for nearly an hour. The owner of a factory, who did not want to be identified, said the anarchy has created a fear psychosis. "The attitude of the police was the most reprehensible. Rather than controlling the mob, the cops went around advising that we should file for a claim as the Supreme Court had recently made Shiv Sena and BJP pay up fines for violence during a bandh call in the wake of the 1993 Mumbai blasts. But how can people be allowed to simply run riot and disrupt peaceful operations in factories when there was no strike call,'' he added.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (West District), Neeraj Thakur, acknowledged violence at the Hyundai showroom but denied any damage to vehicles or other buildings in the area.

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