BJP leaders court arrest as protest against fuel price hike intensifies

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New Delhi/Uttar Pradesh/Kolkata/Mumbai, July 5 (ANI): A nationwide shutdown called by the by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government's decision to hike fuel prices gained momentum in different cities on Monday with senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Lalji Tandon, Nitin Gadkari, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajnath Singh courting arrest.

In Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow city, the police arrested Jaitley, Naqvi and Tandon this morning, while they were taking out a procession in support of the nation-wide shutdown.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari courted arrest along with Rajnath Singh in New Delhi's Chandni Chowk, while BJP General Secretary Gopinath Munde courted arrest during a procession in Mumbai.Ravi Shankar Prasad courted arrest in Bihar's Patna city and accused Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh of giving patronage to middlemen and brokers, who, in fact, he said were responsible for the unchecked price rise.

The Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Telugu Desam Party, Shiv Sena, AIADMK, MDMK and Akali Dal also took part in the shutdown.

Violent protests were being witnessed in several cities including the national capital, Lucknow, Agra, Patna and Mumbai.

Tight security arrangements have been made across Uttar Pradesh in view of the bandh called by the opposition parties. Three hundred PAC personnel have been deployed in various districts of the state to maintain law and order during the bandh and to avoid any untoward incident, a senior officer said here.

In Lucknow, around 30 people associated with various political parties, including SP, have been taken into preventive custody.

Samajwadi Party workers went on a rampage in Lucknow outside BJP headquarters, clashing with police and attempting to break the security cordon leading police to lathicharge to disperse the stone pelting crowds. Police made a number of arrests.

In New Delhi, BJP protesters blocked traffic, Metro and suburban rail services as the bandh gathered momentum.

BJP workers blocked traffic at Laxmi Nagar, ITO, Preet Vihar, Akshardham and Madhuban Chowk among other areas at around 9 am. Some BJP workers also stopped a Metro train at Karol Bagh station.

The BJP protestors in New Delhi also stopped trains at Nangloi, Shakur Basti and Badli railway stations.

In Kolkata, private airlines have shut down operations in the wake of the bandh.

Only the state run Air India would be operating flights till noon, and then resume operations after 6 pm.

Violent incidents have been reported from Maharashtra, where Shiv Sainiks have gone on a rampage in several areas.

At least 15 buses were vandalised in Pune, and 100 BJP workers led by Kirit Somaya were arrested for blocking train services in Mumbai.

At least 84 flights to and from Mumbai have also been cancelled.

In Bangalore, all buses and autos are staying off the road.

In Uttar Pradesh, train services have been affected in Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi and other parts of the state.

At least 10 express trains have been stopped in Patna, while all buses and autos are also staying off the roads in Bihar.

No vehicular movement has been reported from Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The protesters are demanding a roll back in the Government's move to decontrol petrol and diesel prices, as also the fuel price hike across the board made by the Government in the last week of June.

The Union government had raised petrol and diesel prices on June 25, as part of a plan to move towards a market-determined fuel price regimen in accordance with the Kirit Parikh Committee recommendation.

Following the decision price of petrol has been raised by Rs. 3.73 per litre and diesel by Rs. 2.

The fuel price rises are expected to push up monthly price inflation by 0.9 percentage points, exacerbating inflation that stood at a surprisingly high 10.16 percent in May. (ANI)

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