The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trains stopped, roads blocked

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 14: The call given by the Left-affiliated trade unions for a nation wide general strike against the “anti-labour policies” of the UPA government today evoked a good response in the state.

Commuters faced difficulties as state-run and private buses and taxis were off the road. Rail services were disrupted as bandh supporters squatted on rail tracks at various stations.

Shops and business establishments across the state remained closed, while essential services like water supply, and healthcare were exempted from the strike.

Functioning of banks and insurance company offices was paralysed as the employees had joined the strike.

Grade III employees of the Reserve Bank of India picketed for some time in front of the bank but senior officers were working, RBI sources said.

No major violence had been reported from any place throughout the day except for a few stray incidents during picketing by bandh supporters, said a senior police officer.

In Bhubaneswar, police rounded up 2605 bandh supporters for disrupting traffic, said city police officials.

Most shops, business establishments, banks and insurance offices remained closed in the city while there was thin traffic on the roads as Left activists erected road blocks at different places.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, long-distance buses went off the roads, postal, telecom, banking and insurance services remained paralysed and movement of trains was affected.

However a state wide Jharkhand bandh called by the CPM, CPI, Forward Bloc, RSP, Marxist Coordination Centre and CPI(ML) to highlight their demands for holding immediate panchayat polls, checking price hike and proper implementation of the job guarantee scheme in rural areas failed to evoke much response.

Schools and educational institutions as also Ranchi’s wholesale markets remained open while public transport was near normal throughout the day. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state.

More than 800 activists of the various Left parties were arrested at Ranchi though they were let off in the evening.

Air Deccan’s morning and evening flights to Calcutta were cancelled. Flights to Delhi, however, operated normally.

Railway officials said the Hatia-Howrah Shatabdi Express, Hatia-Bankura passenger and the Barkakana- Adra passenger trains were cancelled.

Most trains were running late as bandh supporters squatted on the tracks.

The Rajdhani Express was held up for several hours in Dhanbad.

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