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`Vehicle bandh' near-total

Special Correspondent



ON THE WARPATH: CPI(M) leader Kadakampally Surendran inaugurating an Account-General's Office march organised by LDF activists in support of the motor vehicle strike in the capital on Thursday. — Photo: S. Gopakumar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 24-hour `vehicle bandh' called by the coordination committee of major trade unions and owners of public carriages and various transport vehicles on Thursday to protest against the hike in third party insurance premium was near total in the State.

Private buses, taxi cars, lorries, jeeps and autorickshaws stayed off the road for the entire day. Kerala State Road Transprot Corporation (KSRTC) operated its services, but only a few private vehicles were on the road in most parts of Kerala. The strike, which began at midnight on Wednesday, was by and large peaceful but for a stone-throwing incident in Ernakulam in which a fourth standard student of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan school was injured. The police, later, arrested Suneer of Thammanam in the city in connection with the incident.

The Joint Action Council of Trade Unions, comprising CITU, AITUC, BMS, UTUC, HMS, STU and TUCI, claimed that the strike was total. The CITU-led All India Road Transport Workers' Federation also came up with a similar claim and greeted the transport workers who joined the strike which was called to press for roll back of the hike in insurance premium, in some cases by 150 per cent. The Private Bus Operators Federation and All Kerala Bus Operators Organisation and the trade unions threatened to intensify their agitation if the hike in insurance premium was not rolled back. .

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