Bharat Bandh: Normal life largely unaffected in Tamil Nadu

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CHENNAI, Sept 10 (PTI): Normal life in Tamil Nadu largely remained unaffected on  Monday in view of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the Congress to protest the rising prices of petroleum products, as state-run buses operated smoothly and most commercial establishments and educational institutes functioned as usual.

However, autorickshaw operators affiliated to Left trade unions All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the DMK-backed  Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) kept off the roads.

In most parts of Tamil Nadu, CPI(M), CPI and Left trade unions took the lead in holding demonstration against fuel price hike.

In Chennai, the state secretaries of CPI(M) and CPI, K Balakrishnan and R Mutharasan respectively, led a well-attended agitation here and later resorted to a road roko on the arterial Anna Salai. The participants later courted arrest.

Similar protests were held in key cities of the state, including Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli and Salem.

In Dindigul, Left parties held a demonstration by loading motorbikes onto a bullock cart, which was taken out in a procession. In other places, including Pudukottai, Congress cadre staged demonstrations.

DMK held demonstrations in cities such as Thanjavur and Nagercoil.

The call for shutdown had some impact in several pockets of the Cauvery delta region, including Thanjavur and Nagapatttinam districts with shops and retail outlets downing shutters.

However, schools, colleges and universities functioned as usual. Banks and commercial establishments were open.

President of South Indian Fisheries Welfare Association, K Bharathi said fishermen in most parts of the state participated in the shutdown.

Though state-run buses operated as usual, Karnataka-bound buses wound up their trips at the border city of Hosur, where commuters alleged that cab operators charged exorbitant fares for travelling to Bengaluru.

The bandh call did not evoke any response in some southern districts, with shops remaining open and vehicles plying as usual.

However in Kanyakumari district, windscreens of half a dozen buses were damaged by unidentified persons, police said, adding they were probing the matter.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK which did not participate in the bandh, said it wanted the Centre to intervene to tackle fuel price rise.

“The rise in fuel prices is condemnable. We want the prices to be brought down. The Centre should revert to the practise of the government-led fixation of fuel prices,” senior AIADMK leader and Lok Saha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai said.

In Coimbatore, normal life was not affected by the call for shutdown as shops and commercial establishments remained opened. City buses plied as usual, but Kerala-bound services were not operational. However in Tirupur, a majority of knitwear units remained closed.

The nation-wide bandh has been called by the Congress over rising fuel prices and depreciation of the rupee. In Tamil Nadu, the bandh was supported by the DMK and other opposition parties.

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