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Shutdown: Here, there, everywhere
Strike stress for residents, aspirants

A day after residents found themselves gasping for cash with banks and ATMs shut, the troubles were far from over for many as central government employees began their two-day strike from Tuesday midnight.

Apart from people in want of cash, the strike also put aspirants for different exams in a spot of bother.

Around one million central government employees, under the aegis of Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers, have begun a 48-hour strike from midnight of February 11 to press for their demands.

Fifty-five-year-old Ramashankar Thakur was seen pacing through the dusty and deserted hallway of the general post office (GPO) in the city with a frustrated look on Wednesday. He could hardly be blamed. The post offices were the worst hit. They were locked with employees staging a dharna.

A resident of the Gulzarbagh area, the locked iron collapsible gates only increased Thakurs anger as he walked along mumbling to himself in a low grunting voice. Dont bother me please, he retorted when stopped.

After a while, he said: I have to withdraw Rs 10,000 from my recurring deposit immediately. A person from whom I had borrowed money is troubling me so much that I had promised him the same. I had no clue about the strike. Now I hear it is a two- day strike, which means I will not be able to withdraw the amount tomorrow (Thursday) as well. I need money urgently for some medicines, he told The Telegraph and walked out of the main gate.

While the passport office functioned normally, those having to use the post offices were a harried lot. The GPO in Patna wore a deserted look and several people were seen with worried faces.

Deepak Kumar (23), a resident of Anisabad, said: I have filled up two examination forms, one of technical assistant in the Indian Railway and another for assistant in the cabinet secretariat. With the examinations scheduled soon, the forms need to be sent by February 17. With the strike on for two days, I dont think my forms would reach on time and I will not be able to sit for the examinations.

Deepak walked off trying to locate any official who would be able to help him.

His friend, 23-year- old Aditya Kumar, facing a similar problem, said: I have been preparing for the railway examinations since almost a year now. It seems I will not be able to appear for the tests. These strikes spoil preparations and careers of students.

Chandan Kumar, another student, was seen filling up the form of a railways entrance exam. I didnt a strike was on. I am just filling up the form but cannot post it owing to this strike. I dont know if there is any other way to ensure the form reaches on time, he told The Telegraph.

A group of policemen on guard at the GPO were seen joking among themselves. There is no point getting angry. They should have known about the strike, isnt it? Ab pachtane se kya hoga (now there is no point regretting), a constable smilingly told Chandan, who didnt react but had a stern look on his face as he walked out.

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