The second day of Bharat Bandh witnessed sporadic incidents of violence in West Bengal and Kerala and rail blockades in certain states on Wednesday. The strike call, given by trade unions, also saw a partial disruption of banking and insurance services across the country.
A two-day Bharat Bandh call on January 8 and 9 was given by country’s 10 major central trade unions, except RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, to protest against the government’s alleged anti-labour policies and unilateral labour reforms. Here is how the protests affected normal life across the country:
Stray incidents of violence were reported from various parts of West Bengal Wednesday. Stones were pelted at school buses in Howrah district. Similar incidents were reported on Tuesday as well. There were similar incidents of stone pelting in other parts of the state too.
A treasury branch of the State Bank of India in Thiruvananthapuram was attacked and trains were blocked in various parts of the state on the second day of the strike. At the Thiruvananthapuram railway station, Thiruvananthapuram-Hyderabad Sabari Express and Venad Express were stopped, while the Kottayam-Nilambur passenger train in Kalamassery was held up for a while. At many places in Kerala, shops and commercial establishments remained shut, and buses and auto-rickshaws were also off roads in the state.
In Mumbai, lakhs of commuters faced hardships as an indefinite strike called by BEST, the city’s civic transport undertaking, continued. There were only five buses plying on city roads. Over 32,000 BEST employees went on an indefinite strike Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries.
Causing severe inconvenience to commuters in Bengaluru, hundreds of protesters from the Left trade unions disrupted bus services at Majestic, the Central Bus Stand. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses also remained stationed in their respective depots across the state as protesters damaged the vehicles.
Train services in Eastern Railway zone were disrupted Wednesday after supporters of the Bandh resorted to blockades at many places. A suspected bomb was found on the railway tracks at Ashoknagar in Sealdah-Bongaon section that led to the suspension of train services in the route.
In Odisha, train services were hit as trade union activists staged ‘rail roko’ at several places including Bhubaneswar, Balasore and Berhampur. Several trains were delayed due to blockade of railway tracks by strike supporters, leaving a large number of passengers stranded at many places.
Many states invoked essential services maintenance laws while the Centre had issued a stern warning to refrain from the stir Tuesday. Banking services were also partially affected for the second day, as a section of PSU bank employees came in support of the strike call. 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.