Normal life was hit in some states Monday with offices and educational institutes closed and vehicles off the roads during an opposition sponsored ‘Bharat Bandh’ which was largely peaceful, barring some incidents of violence.
A three-year-old girl died in Bihar’s Jehanabad district which the BJP alleged was due to delay in find a vehicle to take her to the hospital. Train services were affected in Odisha.
The bandh was called by 21 opposition parties led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. It was kickstarted at Rajghat where Gandhi offered holy water from his Kailash Mansarovar yatra. He then accompanied opposition leaders then marched to Ramlila Maidan from Rajghat.
In states like Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh life was hit by the shutdown, but Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Mizoram remained largely unaffected.
Rahul Gandhi alleged hatred was being spread and the country being divided under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said it was time for all opposition parties to shed their differences and move forward unitedly “to save” sovereignty and democracy.
The BJP dubbed the bandh as an attempt to spread rumour and confusion among the masses and said people will “puncture the grand alliance balloon” floated by the opposition party.
In New Delhi, offices, schools and colleges in opened at their regular time despite the bandh. Traffic was affected in Daryaganj and around Ramlila Maidan due to the protest.
In Odisha, train services were disrupted in many places as Congress workers blocked railway tracks to enforce the bandh. At least 10 trains were cancelled.
Vehicular movement came to a grinding halt in many places as Congress workers blocked roads. Buses, taxis and autorickshaws stayed off the roads.
In Bhubaneswar, Congress workers staged a road blockade disrupting movement of vehicles on the national highway. Bandh supporters also locked the ticket counter of the Sun Temple.
Shops, markets, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed. Examinations were cancelled by the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT).
In Kerala, the hartal hit normal life. Both public and private transport buses and autorickshaws kept off the roads.
The bandh evoked a mixed response in Telangana. The police took scores of workers of the Congress, Left and TDP into custody when they held protests and prevented buses from plying. AICC secretary Srinivasan Krishnan and 40 others were taken into preventive custody in Karimnagar town.
Osmania University postponed pre-Phd examination for tomorrow.
Normal life was thrown out of gear in Karnataka. Roads in Bangalore wore a deserted look as government buses, private taxis and most autorickshaws did not ply. Businesses, shops, malls, some private enterprises remained closed.
KSRTC buses kept off the road and city buses also did not ply. In Mangaluru, incidents of stone pelting at hotels and shops, which remained open, were reported.
In Jharkhand, 58 Congress activists were taken into police custody for forcibly trying to enforce the bandh.
Almost all schools, colleges and offices were open in West Bengal where examinations were held as schedules.
Bandh supporters protested on railway tracks at Jadavpur station but it was withdrawn after commuters’ protest.
In Tamil Nadu, normal life largely remained unaffected. However, autorickshaws affiliated to trade unions participating in the shutdown kept off the roads, they said.
Police said city buses were operating but those bound for Kerala were not plying. Buses bound to Karnataka from here were stopped at Hosur, the police added.
The BJP alleged in Bihar’s Jehanabad, a two-year-old girl died while being taken to a hospital and her family blamed the death on the delay in finding a three-wheeler.
Sub-divisional Officer Paritosh Kumar said Pramod Manjhi, a resident of a village in Gaya district, was bringing his daughter to a hospital as she was vomiting and suffering from diarrhea.
“Although bandh supporters did not preven three-wheelers from plying, it could be said had there been no delay in finding a vehicle, her life could have been saved,” he said.
Arson, vandalism and disruption of rail and road traffic were reported from Bihar. Bandh supporters indulged in vandalism in the old Patna city area where they placed burning tyres on railway tracks, disrupting movement of trains.
Private schools and a sizeable number of shopping establishments remained closed. Government offices and banks were, however, functioned normally.
Normal life was affected in Arunachal Pradesh. All shops and business establishments were closed and private vehicles were off the roads. In the state capital, about 100 Congress activists were arrested.
AICC general secretary Jarjum Ete alleged SP used abusive language against several Mahila Congress activists. However, the SP denied the allegation saying despite repeated pleas from him the party started to pelting stones and created law and problem situation.
The call for bandh evoked little response in Uttar Pradesh and most commercial establishments remained open. Shops, offices and educational institutions were open in Congress-ruled Mizoram as there was no impact of the bandh.