NEWS
08/01/2019 2:13 PM IST

Bharat Bandh: Mamata Says 'No Strike' In Bengal; Special Buses In Kerala For Sabarimala Pilgrims

Despite clashes being reported from West Bengal and rail tracks having been blocked in Howrah, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed that there was “no bandh” in the state.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The 48-hour Bharat Bandh, called by 10 trade unions, and supported by many others saw daily life crippled in some states, while mixed responses in other states. 

Clashes took place earlier in the day in West Bengal’s Asansol, buses and autos stayed off the roads in Kerala and schools remained shut in Odisha. Banking operations were also affected in some parts of the country. 

All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees’ Federation of India (BEFI) have supported the strike, which has impacted banking operation where these two unions are strong.

However, the operation in SBI and private sector banks remained unaffected as other seven unions in the banking sector are not part of the strike.

Many public sector banks have already informed their customers about likely impact on services if strike materialises.

“If the strike materialises, a section of the bank’s employees may take part in the proposed strike on the said dates, in which case, the normal functioning of the branches/offices of the bank may get affected,” Indian Bank said in a statement.

"Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they (Left Front) have destroyed the state by calling bandh. There will be no bandh."Mamata Banerjee

No strike in Bengal, claims Mamata Banerjee

Despite clashes being reported from West Bengal and rail tracks having been blocked in Howrah, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed that there was “no bandh” in the state. 

“I do not want to spend a single word on this. In West Bengal, we have taken a stand of not supporting any bandh.

Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they (Left Front) have destroyed the state by calling bandh. There will be no bandh,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

The Mamata Banerjee government, in a diktat, barred its employees from availing casual leave or half-day leave on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“No leave will also be allowed on the day preceding the two-day strike or following it,” a government notification had said last week.

The state government on Monday announced that 500 additional buses would ply on city roads police have taken all measures to foil any untoward incident during tomorrow’s strike.

Private bus owners and taxi associations and app-based cabs have decided to take out vehicles on the roads like normal days.

According to a senior official at the state police department, extra police personnel would be deployed in and around the city.

“Anybody trying to disrupt normal life in the city will face strict action. Nobody will be allowed to put up barricades and stop people from trying to open shops or visiting offices. Market places, shops, malls, and every business entities will be operating normally,” the police official said.

To ensure Sabarimala pilgrims were not affected by the strike, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has been operating buses from various destinations to Pamba

Trains stopped, special buses to Sabarimala

Trains were stopped, buses and auto-rickshaws kept off roads as the 48-hour general strike called by 10 central trade unions against “anti-labour policies” of the central government, hit normal life in the southern state Tuesday.

Workers from various sectors have extended support to the two-day strike.

Trains were stopped in Thiruvananthapuram, Tripunithura, Shoranur railway stations.

Venad Express, which runs from the state capital to Shoranur Junction daily, was delayed by more than one hour as agitators squatted on tracks, blocking its route, and raised slogans. Other trains that were stopped here were Jan Shatabdi and Raptisagar Express.

The Sabarimala pilgrims, tourists, social and religious functions have been exempted from the strike Tuesday.

To ensure Sabarimala pilgrims were not affected by the strike, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has been operating buses from various destinations to Pamba, the foothills of the Sabarimala temple. However, KSRTC buses were not plying on other routes.

Meanwhile, pilgrims at Nilackal said they have been waiting for hours to reach the hill shrine. Private-run buses are also keeping off roads.

Shops at many places in the state capital were open and the popular ‘Mittayi Theruvu’ (sweet street) in Kozhikode was buzzing.

The union leaders had assured businesses they would not force closure of shops and target traders. The Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi has said it would open its commercial establishments.

Meanwhile, the state’s BJD government and its trade union front ― Biju Sramika Samukhya (BSS) ― have extended support to the two-day nation-wide strike called by CITU, AITUC and others trade unions.

Schools shut in Odisha

All educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities in Odisha will remain closed on Tuesday in view of the two-day nationwide strike called by central trade unions.

A notification to this effect was issued by the Higher Education department on Monday.

“All schools in the state will remain closed on Tuesday due to the general strike called by central trade unions. The decision regarding the closure of schools on Wednesday will be taken tomorrow, said School and Mass Education Secretary PK Mohapatra.

Meanwhile, the state’s BJD government and its trade union front ― Biju Sramika Samukhya (BSS) ― have extended support to the two-day nation-wide strike called by CITU, AITUC and others trade unions.

CITU state secretary, Souribandhu Kar, said the trade unions have also demanded proper recognition for skilled workers who are genuine.

The home department in a notification also asked employees of the state secretariat and heads of departments, to reach office by around 9.30 am to facilitate smooth entry.

Mixed response to strike have been reported so far from Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi-Dharwad among others.

Bandh evokes mixed response in Karnataka

The two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions against the alleged repressive labour policies by the Narendra Modi government evoked mixed response in Karnataka on Tuesday 

While buses of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) stayed off the roads in most parts of the state, causing inconvenience to the people travelling to distant places, private buses, auto, taxi and metro services were available as usual.

Mixed response to strike have been reported so far from Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi-Dharwad among others. In many districts, holiday was declared in schools and colleges, with examinations being postponed.

Very few Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses were seen plying on the roads. Officials said passengers were also few in number, as most of them were aware of strike and have opted for other modes of transport. Two BMTC buses were pelted with stones by miscreants near Malleswaram here, they said.

There were complaints about auto drivers charging exorbitant fares from passengers here, Hubballi among other places. Authorities said action would be initiated against such drivers.

Hotels, shops and establishments like malls and film theatres functioned as usual, with their unions extending a moral support to the strike. Bank services are likely to be disrupted.

The unions have decided to hold a protest march from Town Hall in the city to Freedom Park on Tuesday and, on Wednesday, from Town Hall to the Raj Bhavan.

Adequate security arrangement has been made to ensure that no untoward incident took place, police said.

Describing the strike as “illogical, irrational and politically-motivated” move called by “frustrated elements”, the state Bharatiya Janata Party has called upon the people to reject it and carry on with their daily activities.

(With inputs from PTI)