Oppn protests hit life in Kerala, Tripura; fail in Bengal


India, All India

The bandh evoked a good response in Tripura with schools, colleges remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads.

A view of a deserted street during the Bharat Bandh called by Left parties against demonetization of high value currency notes, in Agartala on Monday. (Photo: PTI)

Agartala/Kolkata/Trivandrum: Normal life was hit in Left-ruled Tripura on Monday in response to a dawn-to-dusk bandh to protest against demonetisation and press for the use of the old high-value notes till the situation became normal.

The bandh evoked a good response in the state with schools, colleges and shops remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads. However, banks were open as they were out of the purview of the bandh.

There was no untoward incident in any part of the state till noon, police said.

Opposition Congress, which is opposing the bandh, was observing 'Akrosh Diwas' in the state by organising rallies and processions.

"We are against demonetisation because it is inconveniencing people but we are against the bandh because it also causes inconveniences," Tripura Pradesh Congress

Committee (TPCC) President and MLA Birajit Sinha said.

Tripura unit of Trinamul Congress (TMC) also opposed the bandh on the same grounds.

"We are against demonetisation but do not support the bandh because it spoils work culture and also causes monetary loss of common people," TMC spokesperson Asish Saha told reporters.

The Tripura unit of BJP was also opposed to the bandh. President of Tripura unit of BJP Biplab Deb said, "Political parties supporting black money have called the bandh".

But the strike failed to evoke much response in West Bengal.

Government and private buses, trams and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road while most of the shops and markets were open.

Train services of Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services were also normal, Railway sources said.

"So far there has been no incident. The situation is peaceful and normal", ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma told PTI.

The strike call by the Left Front has been opposed by the ruling TMC in West Bengal.

Transport Minister and senior Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari said his department is plying 3000 more buses to maintain normalcy.

"It seems the people have rejected the strike call. The people of Bengal very well know that strike does not serve any purpose. If you want to oppose anti-people decision you have to hit the streets," TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee told PTI.

The Left Front claimed that the strike is going on peacefully and accused ruling TMC of trying to unleash violence at certain places.

"The people of the state have willingly participated in the strike to oppose demonetization. In most of the places it is peaceful but in certain areas TMC is using its muscle power to break the strike," CPI(M)LP leader Sujan Chakraborty said.

LF leaders including the Front chairman Biman Bose and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra took to the streets and participated in a procession in the metropolis.

"We are not demanding a roll back of demontisation. What we want is that common people should not face any hardship," Bose said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, opposing the strike had said, "We oppose bandhs. We will take out a protest march (against demonetisation) on Monday."

The 12-hour strike called by the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala, began this morning in the state.

In the early hours of the strike which started at 6 AM, autorickshaws were seen plying in some places, providing some relief to people.

Police vehicles were used to transport railway passengers and patients coming from far off places to the Regional Cancer Centre here.

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and private buses are keeping off roads in most places.

Some Sabarimala pilgrims who arrived at Kottayam by train complained that they were unable to leave for the Ayyappa temple as buses were not plying.

"We have been waiting for hours. Though some private taxis are available, we cannot afford them as the fares are exorbitant," a man from Andhra Pradesh said.

The tourism sector and vehicles of Sabarimala pilgrims have been exempted from the strike.

Keeping in mind the peak tourist season, the government had decided to exempt tourists from the strike. It has issued instructions to all departments concerned, including police to take all possible steps to ensure that the tourism sector was not hit by the strike.

Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran had also requested for exemption of tourists and tourist vehicles from the strike.

German Cruise liner AIDAbella which had arrived in Kochi made a turnaround call at the Kochi port yesterday.

At least 1000 tourists would be arriving at the airport today to embark the vessel, while some would be leaving it to explore various places.

Tour operators were assured by Tourism Principal Secretary V Venu that the hartal would not affect the visitors.

The opposition Congress-led UDF would be taking out a march to the Raj Bhavan here at 11 AM on the crisis being faced by the cooperative sector.

Banks, newspapers, milk supply, hospitals and marriage functions would be exempted from the shutdown, LDF convener Vaikom Viswam had said in a statement.

The LDF had announced the strike as part of the nationwide protest against the Centre's move of scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Congress and the Left parties on Monday organised protests in Hyderabad and other places in Telangana as part of the 'Aakrosh Diwas' called by them to highlight the hardships faced by people following the Centre's demonetisation move.

Congress leaders and workers, led by state party chief N Uttamkumar Reddy, held a protested Saifabad here.

"This protest is to highlight the great inconvenience people are facing even 20 days after the decision (of demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes) was announced," Reddy told reporters.

Left activists and leaders also took out protests at several places in Telangana over the issue.

However, public transport buses plied almost normally and shops and other commercial establishments remained open. Educational institutions also functioned normally.

The protests evoked mixed reaction in Bihar where workers of RJD, Congress and Left parties disrupted train services at many places but offices and schools registered normal attendance.

The protest had its echo in both Houses of the Bihar legislature where legislators of Congress, RJD and CPI-ML raised slogans against scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

BJP legislators countered them by raising slogans against them and in favour of demonetisation. JD(U), a member of the ruling alliance, kept away from the stir in view of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's consistent support to demonetisation of high value notes to fight black money in the economy.

Congress, RJD and CPI-ML took out a protest march on the streets of Patna and stalled traffic movement at some places.

Road traffic was, however, normal and attendance in offices, banks and schools and colleges remained by and large unaffected.

Train services were hit at Darbangha, Madhubani, Masauri in rural Patna, Ara, Jehanabad and other places.

Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of East Central Railway Arvind Kumar Rajak said running of more than a dozen trains was disrupted in different parts of Bihar due to the stir.

In Darbhanga, Ara, Masaurhi and Madhubani, CPI workers squatted on railway tracks.

Outside Bihar Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, bandh supporters from RJD, Congress and CPI-ML, holding placards in their hands, shouted slogans at the entrance gate.

BJP MLAs led by leader of opposition Prem Kumar countered them by raising slogans in favour of demonetisation.

Opposition parties organized widespread protests across Andhra Pradesh but no bandh as such was observed in the state on Monday even as leaders of CPI and YSRC were detained at some places following demonstrations.

Congress's state unit president N Raghuveera Reddy led his party workers in a protest rally from Andhra Ratna Bhavan to Lenin Centre.

"We are not against the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes but why did the government introduce Rs 2000 note," Raghuveera said.

He said the common man was put to untold misery because of the "abrupt" decision of the Centre to ban the high denomination notes.

CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna and others were taken into custody at the Lenin Centre where they staged a protest on the demonetisation issue.

In Tirupati, YSR Congress leader Bhumana Karunakar Reddy and others were taken into custody. In Guntur city too YSRC leaders, led by West MLA Mustafa, were detained by police following a protest rally.

YSRC leaders and workers were also taken into custody in many other districts of the state where protests were held. Left-affiliated trade unions organised dharnas in front of many bus depots of AP State Road Transport Corporation in the state.

However, RTC services were not disrupted.