Violent protests, rail blockades mar day 2 of Bharat bandh
Sporadic incidents of violence in West Bengal and Kerala and rail blockades in certain states were witnessed on Wednesday on the second day of Bharat Bandh, which also saw a partial disruption of banking and insurance services across the country.
Other sectors like mining, road transport, power supply too bore the brunt of strike call given by country’s 10 major central trade unions, except RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, to protest against the government’s alleged anti-labour policies and unilateral labour reforms. They had given a call for a two-day Bharat Bandh on January 8 and 9.
Stray incidents of violence were reported from various parts of West Bengal Wednesday. Stones were pelted at school buses in Howrah district. Similar incidents were reported on Tuesday as well. There were similar incidents of stone pelting in other parts of the state too.
In Kerala, a treasury branch of the State Bank of India in Thiruvananthapuram was attacked and trains were blocked in various parts of state on the second day of strike.
At the Thiruvananthapuram railway station, Thiruvananthapuram-Hyderabad Sabari Express and Venad Express were stopped, while the Kottayam-Nilambur passenger train in Kalamassery was held up for a while. At many places in Kerala, shops and commercial establishments remained shut, and buses and auto-rickshaws were also off roads in the state.
Trains were stopped by protesters at a few places in Tamil Nadu and banking services in some public sector banks interrupted in Telangana but life largely remained unaffected on Wednesday.
However, some impact of the strike was seen in Goa as private buses and tourist taxis remained off roads. Long queues of passengers were seen at various bus stands after the private buses association in the state shut operations.
In Mumbai, lakhs of commuters faced hardships as an indefinite strike called by BEST, the city’s civic transport undertaking, continued. There were only five buses plying on city roads.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses also remained stationed in their respective depots across the state as protesters damaged the vehicles.
Train services in Eastern Railway zone were disrupted Wednesday after supporters of the Bandh resorted to blockades at many places. A suspected bomb was found on the railway tracks at Ashoknagar in Sealdah-Bongaon section that led to suspension of train services in the route.
All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees’ Federation of India (BEFI) have supported the strike, which has impacted banking operation where these two unions are strong.
However, the operation in SBI and private sector banks remained unaffected as other seven unions in the banking sector were not part of the strike.
According to AIBEA General Secretary C H Vekatchalam, cash transactions, clearance of cheques, remittances, bills discounting and foreign exchange transactions were impacted.
Cheques worth about Rs 20,000 crore could not be cleared by clearing houses all over the country on Tuesday, he claimed.