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Nationwide strike called by trade unions: Updates from across the country

Violence in Bengal; banking services hit

By The Telegraph and PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 8.01.20, 5:37 PM
  • Updated 8.01.20, 5:37 PM
  • 4 mins read
  •  
Shops in a market near the Jama Masjid remained closed due the trade unions' nationwide strike against the central government's alleged "anti-people" policies, New Delhi, Wednesday, January 8, 2020. PTI

Protesters took to the street in various parts of the country on Wednesday after a nationwide one-day bandh was called by central trade unions against the centre's "anti-people" policies.  INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC, along with various independent federations and association had announced the nationwide bandh earlier.

Their demands include a minimum pension of Rs 6,000 for everyone, minimum support price (MSP) for farmers, adequate supply of ration to people, according AITUC general-secretary Amarjeet Kaur said, adding that the demands concern common man's issues besides worker-centric areas.While the bandh did not affect normal life in many places, some states like West Bengal witnessed sporadic violence.

Violence in West Bengal

Incidents of violence and arson were reported from various parts of West Bengal with buses, a police vehicle and government properties being vandalised. Protesters blocked a major road in Sujapur area of Malda district, set tyres on fire, ransacked government buses and torched several vehicles, including a police van.

In various parts of the state, railway tracks and roads were also blocked, affecting normal life.

In Dum Dum and Lake Town, clashes broke out between Left supporters, who took out rallies in support of the strike, and Trinamul Congress supporters who were opposing it. A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation.

Railway tracks at Jadavpur were blocked, disrupting services and shut down vehicular movement on nearby roads, following which police resorted to baton charge.

Heavy police deployment was seen in several areas, including in Tollygunge, Behala, Esplanade and Shyambazar.

Police detain SUCI activists who were staging a road blockade in support of the trade unions' nationwide strike, in Kolkata, Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
Police detain SUCI activists who were staging a road blockade in support of the trade unions' nationwide strike, in Kolkata, Wednesday, January 8, 2020. PTI

Slamming the Left and the Congress for trying to enforce the bandh, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that those who do not have any political existence in the state are trying to ruin its economy by pursuing "cheap politics" of strikes. She said police will take action per law against the protesters.

Till noon, around 55 people were arrested from different parts of the city for allegedly trying to block vehicles, stall government buses or forcibly stop shopkeepers from opening their establishments, a senior officer of the Kolkata Police said.

At least 175 local trains were cancelled in the Sealdah and Howrah divisions of Eastern Railway (ER) owing to the blockades put up by supporters of the strike, its spokesman said.

Maharashtra remains unaffected

The strike failed to evoke much response in Maharashtra till noon with transport and banking services remaining largely unaffected in many districts as well as in the country's financial capital, Mumbai.

No untoward incident was reported so far from any region of the state.

Suburban trains, which are called as the "lifeline of Mumbai" with a ridership of more than 75 lakh commuters per day, public buses, taxis and autorickshaws were seen running normally in the island city and suburbs.

Similarly, Metro and Monorail services were running smoothly, officials said, adding that BEST-operated bus services were also on schedule.

In Pune, trade union leader Ajit Abhyankar claimed that at least 15000 people affiliated to various Central trade unions, Bhartiya Kamgar Sena, posts, banks, and other government establishments participated in a public rally outside the district collectorate.

He said 70 per cent of factories and manufacturing units in Pimpri Chinchwad, Bhosari, Chakan and Ranjangaon MIDC around Pune remained closed.

"Whatever units that functioned today were largely due to contractual employees," he said.

Banking services hit

Banking services such as cash withdrawal were impacted in some public sector lenders.

While banks remained open, some services such as cash withdrawal were impacted in many places in the country as bank employees extended their support to the nationwide strike. Banking services suffered in states such as Kerala, Telangana, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Members of various trade unions stage a demonstration during the trade unions' nationwide strike over various demands, in Coimbatore, Wednesday January 8, 2020.
Members of various trade unions stage a demonstration during the trade unions' nationwide strike over various demands, in Coimbatore, Wednesday January 8, 2020. PTI

However, work at government departments remained unaffected barring sporadic demonstrations by trade unions.

Trade unions have claimed around 25 crore people will participate in the stir.

There were no reports of any impact on essential services from anywhere in the country. Train services were unaffected while electricity generation as well as oil refineries and fuel pumps operated normally.

Kerala, Assam hit by strike

The strike was near total in Kerala with vehicles, including state-owned KSRTC and private buses, keeping off the roads.

In the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) did not operate city and long-distance services. Very few private vehicles and auto-rickshaws were seen plying on roads.

Normal life was hit in Assam as vehicles remained off the roads and markets were shut. Though pharmacies were open, educational institutions especially schools remained closed.

 Buses parked at ISBT during the nationwide strike of trade unions, in Guwahati, Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Buses parked at ISBT during the nationwide strike of trade unions, in Guwahati, Wednesday, January 8, 2020 PTI

Congress, Left leaders held in Andhra

Leaders of the Congress, CPI and CPI(M) were taken into custody as they staged a sit-in protest on the highway outside the RTC bus station in Vijayawada.

Reports said employees stayed off duties in various public sector undertakings, mostly in Visakhapatnam.

Most of the banks remained shut.

Rallies were taken out by the Left parties and trade unions in major towns and cities of Andhra Pradesh, opposing the policies being adopted by the central government.

Insurance employees stage a protest in support of the nationwide strike called by 10 trade unions in protest against the alleged
Insurance employees stage a protest in support of the nationwide strike called by 10 trade unions in protest against the alleged "anti-people" policies of the Centre, in Hyderabad, Wednesday, January 8, 2020 PTI

In Vijayawada, a rally was taken out from Radham Centre to Lenin Centre.

In Machilipatnam too a rally was organised from Koneru Centre.

Reports from Tirupati said police prevented youth organisations from carrying the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a 'shava yatra.'

CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna condemned his arrest and that of CPM and Congress leaders in Vijayawada.

"We have called for the bandh only to protest the anti- people policies of the BJP-led Central government, but police are being overzealous," he said.

The central government had on Tuesday asked public sector undertakings to dissuade their employees from participating in the strike and had advised them to prepare a contingency plan to ensure smooth functioning of the enterprises.