Haldwani (Uttarakhand), May 2 : The nationwide shutdown against the soaring inflation in response to the call by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) turned violent in Uttarakhand's Haldwani town on Friday.
Ahead of the general elections, the BJP is trying to garner support of its own allies and the public by staging protests and demonstrations against the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on the burning issue of inflation.
The violence started after the protesters demanded a total shutdown and the vegetable vendors opposed them as essential food commodities were left out of the protest.
Forcing the closure of all the shops, the activists of the state's ruling BJP, torched vegetable shops.
Stiff opposition from the vendors resulted in a scuffle and stone pelting.
Vegetable carts were burnt and turned upside down by the protestors.
"Essential commodities such as milk, vegetables were not a part of shutdown. That is the reason these vegetable vendors had set up their shops here. This won't be tolerated and the administration should take action against them as soon as possible," said Jagatram Joshi, a resident.
The police had to resort to firing tear gas shells to disperse the violent crowd.
"Protesters and vendors came in from both sides. They were dispersed and the police was called in. There was a small fire but it was doused. Stones were pelted and some of the protesters were hurt in the process," said Pankaj Pandam, Sub-Divisional District Magistrate.
India's annual wholesale price inflation was at three-year highs above 7 per cent in mid-April, as policy planners the world over grapple with soaring food and raw material prices.
India, which has about 260 million poor, is sensitive to rising prices because food often accounts for a much higher proportion of people's expenditure than in developed economies.
With inflation pressures largely coming from the supply side, economists say there is a limit to what the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) can do with monetary policy, especially as growth is slowing.
The RBI said threats to growth and stability from global uncertainties had increased, and while the capital inflows that pushed the rupee up last year might continue, there was a risk they could reverse suddenly.
The key-lending rate remains at 7.75 per cent and the reverse repo rate, the rate at which the central bank absorbs excess cash from banks, remains at 6.0 per cent.
Story first published: Friday, May 2, 2008, 21:14 [IST]