Business activities came to a standstill in many parts of Mumbai in the first half of Wednesday due to the statewide bandh called by Dalit groups in protest against the violent clashes that broke out in villages around Bhima Koregaon near Pune on the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces and the Peshwa army.
The ‘rasta roko’ demonstrations by Dalit groups hit public transport including local train services, which were stalled at multiple stations in the city. This forced corporates, financial institutions and stock broking firms to allow staffers to stay at home or work from home. Normal banking operations were also impacted as bank branches in many areas downed their shutters in the city. However, clearing operations and the foreign exchange market functioned normally.
While offices in south Mumbai were least impacted by the bandh and operated normally, offices in Powai, Saki Vihar, Goregaon, Airoli and Chembur were forced to shut down for the day. “Our offices are working normally and employees have all turned up,” said a RIL spokesperson.
According to an employee of Citibank, it was business as usual at the bank on Wednesday and its services were unaffected by the protests.
However, an official of Dun & Bradstreet said protesters turned up at their office in Saki Vihar in suburban Mumbai at 11 am and enquired why the office was not shut despite the state-wide bandh.
“A large group of protesters came to enquire why the office was not shut. Immediately after they left, the office was closed and at least two hundred employees, who had turned up for work, were asked to stay inside the office till the situation eased. After a few hours, the protesters came back to check on us but since the office was shut from outside and work was suspended, they left without creating any trouble,” said the official.
A few other firms such as Normura and J P Morgan India, which have offices in Powai, told their employees who had turned up for work to not venture out till 6.30 pm. “Employees were asked to work from home and those who came to office were asked to not go back till 6.30 pm,” said an employee of Normura.
Cap Gemini in Airoli too told its employees to work from home. Stock markets functioned on Wednesday despite the bandh. The benchmark BSE Sensex closed 0.06 per cent lower at 33,793.38.
The broader NSE Nifty ended 0.01 per cent higher at 10,443.20. The rupee retreated from its 30-year high and ended marginally lower by 5 paise at 63.53 against the US currency on fresh bouts of dollar demand from importers and banks.