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Tuesday, Jul 06, 2010
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AHMEDABAD: The National Democratic Alliance's call for ‘Bharat Bandh' on Monday received overwhelming support in Gujarat with almost all the shops and business establishments in Ahmedabad and other parts of the State remaining closed for the day, bringing the normal life to a grinding halt.
Almost all the schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions and most of the offices, except the government offices, remained closed. A few offices which opened in the morning were forced to close down as bandh supporters armed with lathis moved round the areas and threatened to ransack the premises if the shutters were not downed.
The people at the railway stations, bus stations and other public places had to suffer silently as the public transport system was entirely off the road. In Ahmedabad, only a few autorickshaws were seen plying on the roads and the harassed passengers had to literally compete with each other to catch one of them as the municipal transport bus service, as well as the government-run state transport bus services were taken off the road following some sporadic scuffles in different parts of the State. Barring in the prime localities, even many bank branches remained closed while the petrol pumps also joined the bandh. The bandh was so complete that even the road-side tea stalls and paan shops preferred to take the day off and remained closed for the day.
In Gujarat, in addition to the fuel price hike, the call for the bandh was also given to protest against the alleged “misuse” of the Central Bureau of Investigation to “harass” the leaders in the BJP government in the state.
Though the bandh by and large was peaceful, the reports received here said some BJP supporters ransacked the Saurashtra stock exchange office in Rajkot and damaged its furniture. The BJP workers also forced closure of the stock exchange office in Vadodara as well as the diamond market in Surat. The party workers also squatted on the roads blocking traffic on the national highways for sometime in Rajkot, Palanpur, Godhra, Jamnagar and several other places in the State. Similar reports of skirmishes between the saffron-clad workers and shop-keepers when they tried to enforce bandh were also received from Chowk Bazaar and Katargam areas in Surat and some parts of Vadodara, Rajkot, and some other centres.
While the state BJP spokesman and former Minister, I. K. Jadeja, claimed that the bandh was spontaneous reflecting people's anger over the price rise, the State Congress president, Siddhartha Patel, counter-claimed that it was a “forced bandh.” But despite his charges of the bandh protagonists having “misused” the government machinery and the police force to “enforce the bandh,” he admitted that the bandh was “near total” and condemned the BJP for causing “enormous losses” to the poor and daily wage earners by forcing the bandh.
The Gujarat High Court and the lower courts could not transact any business as the lawyers stayed away from work as the bar associations of different courts supported the bandh call.
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