Kolkata, Sep 10: A nationwide shutdown called by Congress and other opposition parties Monday against soaring fuel prices failed to evoke response in West Bengal and Tripura, but affected life in BJP-ruled Assam and Arunachal Pradesh besides Bihar and Odisha.
In Congress-ruled Mizoram, the shutdown had no impact. Incidents of arson, vandalism and disruption of rail and road traffic were reported from Bihar during the 'Bharat Bandh'. In state capital Patna, bandh supporters indulged in vandalism in the old city area, where they also disrupted the movement of trains.
In West Bengal, normal life largely remained unaffected by the shutdown. The ruling Trinamool Congress had opposed the bandh but organised a rally against spiralling prices of petroleum products. The Congress had called a shutdown for six hours from 9 am, while the CPI(M)-led Left Front had called a 12-hour bandh starting at 6 am in West Bengal. Almost all schools and colleges remained open with the scheduled examinations underway and the office-goers were seen rushing to office.
Train services were also normal in the state. Official sources said the West Bengal secretariat recorded 98 per cent attendance. A senior Kolkata Traffic Police official said all measures had been taken to ensure that normal life was not impacted by the bandh. "We have employed enough officers for the purpose," he said. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Delhi slammed the Congress for the bandh call, citing the death of a three-year-old girl in Bihar.
The girl died as she could not get medical attention in time after pro-bandh protesters allegedly stopped the vehicle she was in. Prasad asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi if he will take responsibility for the death of the child. The sub-divisional officer of Jehanabad city in Bihar, Paritosh Kumar, confirmed the death of the child, saying a resident of a village in Gaya was taking his daughter to a hospital. But Kumar said bandh supporters did not delay the three-wheeler the child was in.
In Rajendra Nagar area of Patna, activists of Jan Adhikar Party floated by controversial Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav vandalized a number of private vehicles. In Bihar, private schools and a sizeable number of shopping establishments remained closed. Government offices and banks, however, functioned normally and at some places, bandh supporters were seen making way for ambulances and hearses.
In Odisha, train services were hit as bandh supporters squatted on tracks at many places during the bandh duration. At least 10 trains were cancelled and several others regulated in the jurisdiction of the East Coast Railway, an ECoR official said. Vehicular movement too was hit across the state as Congress workers resorted to road blockade and burnt tyres in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Sambalpur and Khurda.
Life was hit in BJP-ruled Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by the shutdown. Congress workers attempted to stop movement of trains by squatting on railway tracks and tried to block national highways and main roads across the state by burning tyres and setting up bamboo barricades, police said.
In Guwahati, Assam Congress president Ripun Bora along with party in-charge for the state Harish Rawat led hundreds of party workers during a rally this morning. The protestors tried to forcibly enter the state secretariat, officials said. They were, however, prevented by police and security forces from entering the secretariat. The protestors were taken into preventive custody for violating Section 144 of CrPC and for not giving prior information to the authorities about their protest rally.
They were later released, officials said. Life was affected in another BJP-ruled state Arunachal Pradesh. All shops and business establishments including banks and educational institutions were closed in the state and private vehicles were off roads. In Congress-ruled Mizoram, shops, offices and educational institutions were open and there was no impact of 'Bharat Bandh' anywhere in the state, officials said.
The Mizoram PCC, however, organised a sit-in in Aizawl. The bandh failed to evoke response in Tripura too. Barring Garhwa district, normal life remained unaffected in Jharkhand.