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CIMA Gallary

Nationwide strike hits banking, transport; TU leader killed in Haryana

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI): A trade union leader trying to stop a bus from plying was killed in Ambala as the two-day nationwide strike called by Central trade unions disrupted normal life in many states on Wednesday and hit banking and transport sectors leaving commuters in the lurch.

The impact was not so severe in West Bengal, barring the banking sector, since the ruling Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee has opposed it. Many shops and markets were open, and some private buses plied.

The West Bengal government had warned employees against being absent during the strike. The state government has also asked shops and markets to remain open or face administrative action, including cancellation of trade licence.

In Haryana, bus driver Narender Singh, was killed when he tried to stop a bus that was being taken out from the Ambala Depot despite the strike.

Singh was the treasurer of All India Trade Unions Congress, the labour arm of the Communist Party of India. The AITUC is one of the 11 central trade unions that have called for a two-day strike.

Other assembled workers went on the rampage, damaging vehicles belonging to Ambala's Deputy Commissioner of Police and a local police officer, police said.

Earlier, AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta had told PTI that Singh was allegedly stabbed to death by some persons opposed to the strike.

Commuters in the national capital faced hardships as a section of auto-rickshaws and taxis remained off the road in support of the strike.

Although Delhi Metro Rail services were not affected by the strike, bus services were affected as a number of bus unions, including a section of Delhi Transport Corporation employees, have also extended support to the strike.

The central unions, including the labour arms of the Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, have called the strike to demand urgent steps to control price rise, strict enforcement of labour laws in all places of work, social security net for workers in the unorganised sector, end to disinvestment in public sector undertakings and raising minimum wage to Rs 10,000.

The impact of the strike was felt on public transport services in Punjab and Haryana as majority of state owned buses plying on inter-state routes in the two states remained off the roads.

In Maharashtra, the financial sector was hit as bank employees joined the strike.

“We have received massive response to our strike call as operations in banks and insurance companies came to a halt,” All India Bank Employees Association Vice President Vishwas Uttagi claimed.

In Odisha, commuters faced difficulties in many parts as buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws remained off the roads leaving a large number of passengers stranded at bus stands.

Shops, markets, business establishments, petrol pumps and restaurants remained closed and roads wore a deserted look with thin traffic, official sources said.

Banks remained closed with employees picketing and demonstrating at different places.

Train services were disrupted as protesters blocked tracks at many places, railway sources said.

Normal life was hit in Left Front-ruled Tripura due to the strike. Shops and markets were closed, as were schools, colleges, banks and financial institutions.        Private buses and taxis were off the roads and train service came to a standstill in the state.       CITU workers staged a dharna on the train lines at the Agartala railways station.

In Andhra Pradesh, personnel of various public sector organisations stayed away from work.

The staff of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) also joined the strike.

The strike evoked a mixed response in Karnataka. Some persons pelted stones at some buses and blocked roads in Bellary while normal life was hit in Koppal, with buses, autorickshaws and other transport off the roads, officials said.

In Rajasthan, bank branches were closed and state roadways buses kept away from the roads.