Monday, 30th October 2017

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Chakka bandh, strike paralyse life across Assam

Workers of manufacturing and industrial sectors went on strike for 24 hours

By Debananda Medak in Guwahati
  • Published 9.01.20, 1:34 AM
  • Updated 9.01.20, 1:34 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A girl waits outside a railway station in Guwahati on Wednesday during the strike. Picture by UB Photos

The nationwide 12-hour chakka bandh (wheel jam) and 24-hour general strike called on Wednesday by 42 trade unions and several employees’ organisations, demanding scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against amendment of labour laws, paralysed life across Assam.

Members of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu), along with 16 other unions and employees’ organisations, blocked the Trivandrum Express at Paltan Bazar railway station here for 45 minutes around 6am. Police detained 19 picketers at 7am and released them at 2pm.

A rally was also taken out from Guwahati Club till the Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner’s office around 10am. All India Trade Union Congress state general secretary Ramen Das, Citu state general secretary Tapan Sarma, Students’ Federation of India state secretary Kashyap Choudhury and leaders of other trade unions, along with 42 other picketers, were detained.

“Around 2,500 picketers were detained across the state,” Sarma said.

He said around 3,000 people took out a protest rally at Dhaligaon in Bongaigaon, while about 2,000 volunteers marched in North Guwahati. More than 1,000 industrial workers staged a protest at Boragaon here. “There were also protests in South Kamrup, Bijaynagar, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Tinsukia, Tezpur, Dhemaji, Silchar, Karimganj and Dhubri, among others,” Sarma said. “We extend our revolutionary gratitude to the people of Assam for their massive response to the chakka bandh as well as to the general strike. It was massive and unprecedented.”

Stating the majority who joined the protests were not from the Left, Sarma said: “Most of those who took part in the protest were earlier BJP voters and loyalists. They came out spontaneously on the streets anguished by the BJP and RSS’s anti-people attitude and policies.”

Sarma said trade unions and employees’ organisations had for the first time jointly protested against the citizenship law at the national level.

Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad president Basab Kalita said: “Those who don’t have personal vehicles, faced problems in reaching office.”

Assam State Transport Corporation assistant superintendent Harendra Devnath said around 150 buses from Noonmati, Dispur (Rupnagar) and ISBT were run to various destinations. “Around 25 buses were either stranded or stopped at various places.”

Greater Guwahati Autorickshaw Coordination Committee president Yusuf Ahmed, who is also president of Guwahati Autorickshaw Owners’ Association said, “We permitted eight autorickshaws to ply on the streets on medical grounds. The response from the public was unprecedented.”

All Assam Motor Transport Association general secretary Pradip Das said: “Neither we supported nor we opposed the bandh. But our city bus staff spontaneously stayed off duty.”

Pawan Kumar, owner of a furniture outlet at Machkhowa here said: “Since there were no vehicles and people on the streets, I was forced to shut my shop.”

ASTC assistant lower division clerk Abani Sarma, who was monitoring parking at its multi-level car parking at Paltan Bazar, said: “Only 10 motorbikes and 12 cars are parked today. Usually there are more than 100 vehicles.”

Workers of manufacturing and industrial sectors went on strike for 24 hours.

In the hill districts of Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong, the chakka bandh had little impact.

The strike passed off peacefully in Barak Valley. More than 400 picketers were arrested from various places. Assam University postponed all its exams. There was thin attendance in government offices, while schools were closed. The passenger train from Bairabi (Mizoram) to Silchar ran on time. Traffic was thin. The bandh was almost total in the Upper Assam districts.

Additional reporting by Suroj Barman in Haflong, Satananda Bhattacharjee in Hailakandi, Aurobinda Dey in Demow