Lukewarm response to Bharat Bandh

Barring a few minor incidents, normal life remained largely unaffected across the State on Monday during the day-long ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the Congress and various opposition parties, including the DMK, to protest against the spiralling fuel prices.

Transport services in Chennai including MTC buses, suburban trains, autos and call taxis operated normally, though the number of buses on the roads seemed to be lower. Government and private offices recorded normal attendance while educational institutions too carried on with their daily schedule. Shops and restaurants largely remained open.

Over 4,000 police personnel were deployed in the city. Cadres of the Left parties led by CPI (M) State secretary K. Balakrishnan and CPI State secretary R. Mutharasan and functionaries of SUCI (C) staged a demonstration in front of Tarapore Towers on Anna Salai, leading to a traffic jam.

Nearly 250 cadres belonging to various outfits including the Congress and Left parties were also detained for staging protests and were later released. There was some trouble in places like Kundrathur and some parts of north Chennai as some cadres, who claimed to be from the Congress party, urged the shopkeepers to down shutters. They were immediately arrested by the police and later released.

Daily life in Kancheepuram district too was not affected much though many eateries and restaurants were forced to close causing inconvenience to visitors who had come to the town to purchase sarees.

Bus services hit

The eight districts of Western Tamil Nadu did not see any untoward incidents, but inter-State bus services to Kerala and Karnataka were suspended as a precautionary measure, leaving commuters stranded.

The bandh also did not have a major impact on the functioning of industries in Coimbatore. However, some of the trade bodies like the Coimbatore Tirupur District Micro and Cottage Entrepreneur Association and Kovai Power Driven Pumps and Spares Manufacturers Association extended support to the bandh. In Krishnagiri town, the response to the bandh was hard to gauge, since Monday is the weekly holiday for shops and commercial outlets.

However, the central districts witnessed a rash of protests with road and rail blockades. The Chennai-bound Cholan Express from Tiruchi was detained at the Budalur railway station in Thanjavur district for three minutes after CPI (M) cadre sat in front of the train.

In Kanniyakumari district, 13 buses were stoned, while in Dindigul district nearly 80% of the shops in and around the Kodai Lake and the busstand downed shutters till 5 p.m.

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