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Bharat Bandh: 5 states worst hit by strike; clashes in Rajasthan, Bengal

Nearly half a dozen trains were cancelled and 20 other trains were controlled en route, affecting the normal movement of various trains on different routes adversely

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Bharat Bandh
Guwahati: Left Democratic Party block trains during the 48-hour-long nationwide general strike called by central trade unions protesting against the "anti-people" policies of the Centre, in Guwahati, Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019. (PTI Photo) 

Millions of workers were on a two-day, nationwide strike on Tuesday to protest the Narendra Modi-led government's labour policies. Meanwhile, farmers and students from across the country were slated to join the general strike.
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The strike by 10 central trade unions evoked a mixed response on Tuesday as five states, including Kerala, Odisha and Assam, witnessed complete bandh, while sporadic incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal and Rajasthan.
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Central trade unions, except RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, launched the two-day nationwide strike Tuesday to protest against proposed labour reforms and worker policies of the BJP-led government. The bandh partly affected the public life in most of the states and Union Territories.

Here are the top 10 developments in the two-day general strike

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1) Nationwide trade strike near total in Kerala
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The two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions was near total in Kerala on Tuesday and was by and large peaceful, with train services badly hit. Barring the BJP-backed BMS trade union, all other unions are protesting in support of demands including a raise in minimum wages to Rs 18,000 amongst others. (Read more here)
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Demonstrators got into the act across the state by blocking rail traffic, following which several trains ran behind schedule. Protesters blocked trains at practically all major stations in Kerala. State-owned private buses and contract vehicles went off the roads but pilgrims to the Sabarimala shrine were allowed to proceed from all places. But during the day, even Sabarimala services got affected, especially from Kottayam bus station, amid angry exchanges between the pilgrims and the staff of the state-owned transport service. Private vehicles, however, plied.
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According to the striking bank employees, over 22,000 bank employees in the state took part in the strike, leaving banking activities in shambles.
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All university examinations slated for the day have been postponed and educational institutions were closed.

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2) Trade unions' strike evokes mixed response on Day 1
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The strike by 10 central trade unions evoked a mixed response on Tuesday as five states, including Kerala, Odisha and Assam, witnessed complete bandh, while sporadic incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal and Rajasthan. (Read more here)
Employees and workers in sectors such as steel, oil, mines, dock and port, transport, and insurance joined the strike, unions said. Banking and postal services were affected across the country as a section of employees abstained from work, according to reports from various parts of the country.
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More than 2 million employees and workers of public, private and unorganised sectors in Telangana participated in the strike, reports from the state suggested. Meanwhile, more than 32,000 employees of Mumbai's civic transport undertaking went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries, prompting the state government to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against them.
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Bus services in Karnataka were also affected as vehicles of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) stayed off the road. In many districts, a holiday was declared in schools and colleges, with examinations being postponed.

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3) Violence reported from West Bengal; several protesters arrested
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In West Bengal, several protesters were arrested after sporadic incidents of vandalism were reported from parts of the state during the strike. Stones were pelted at a school bus in Champadali area of Barasat in North 24 Parganas district. A government bus was also ransacked by strike supporters at Champadali. Protestors also vandalised a bus at Jamuria in Paschim Bardhaman district. (Read more here)

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4) 50 workers, 22 policemen injured in Rajasthan
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As many as 22 policemen were injured in Rajasthan following clashes at the manufacturing plant of a Japanese company as workers, who were supporting the stir, tried to enter its premises, police said. Union leaders claimed that 50 workers injured in the police action against protesters. (Read more here)

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5) Five states, Puducherry witnessed complete bandh: AITUC
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The General Secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Amarjeet Kaur, claimed that five states and a UT saw complete bandh on the first day of the strike. (Read more here)
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"As many as five states of Assam, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, and the union territory of Puducherry witnessed complete bandh while other states like Karnataka, Delhi, Goa, West Bengal reported 100 per cent strike by workers today," Kaur told PTI.

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6) Operations at SBI, private sector banks remained unaffected
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The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees' Federation of India (BEFI) have supported the strike. However, operations at SBI and private sector banks remained unaffected as seven other bank unions are not taking part in the strike. (Read more here)
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Bank unions said employees are opposing privatisation of banks and consolidation in the banking sector. "Workload of various bank employees has increased as they are busy implementing the government's flagship programmes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Aadhaar linkages and Atal Pension Yojana, among others. As against this, there has not been any adequate wage revision," AIBEA said.

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7) Rail services hit due to blockade, roads deserted in Odisha
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The two-day nationwide strike called by central trade unions to protest the Centre's alleged anti-worker policies disrupted rail and road traffic in Odisha on Tuesday. Train services were hit as trade union activists staged rail roko on the first day of the 48-hour strike at many places including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, Jaleswar, Bhadrak, Sambalpur, Berhampur and Paradip, police said. (Read more here)
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Odisha suffers Rs 1,500 crore business loss on Day-1
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Traders in Odisha have lost business transactions estimated at Rs 1,500 crore on the first day of the two-day strike called by trade unions.

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8) Striking employees to face consequences, warns govt
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The Centre has warned its agitating employees of disciplinary action if they go on strike and don't join work, according to an order issued by the Personnel Ministry. (Read more here)

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9) 2 strikes paralyse normal life in Manipur
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Two different strikes paralysed life in Manipur on Tuesday. One strike was called by the North East Students Organisation (NESO) in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The second was the two-day nationwide strike called by 10 trade unions against the Centre's "pro-corporate, anti-and anti-people" policies. (Read more here)
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All educational institutes and public facilities including in Imphal city wore a deserted look. Buses, trucks and other commercial vehicles went off the roads. Shops and businesses were shut. Some strike supporters blocked vehicular movement in some areas.

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10) Trade Unions' call derails trains, commuters hit hard
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Nearly half a dozen trains were cancelled, and 20 other trains were controlled en route, affecting the normal movement of various trains on different routes adversely. (Read more here)
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Among the trains which stood cancelled included Bhubaneswar-Visakhapatnam-Bhubaneswar Intercity Express (UP and Down), Puri-Cuttack-Puri passenger train (UP and Down), Cuttack-Brahmapur-Cuttack passenger train (UP and Down), Cuttack-Bhadrak-Cuttack passenger (Up and Down), Brahmapur-Cuttack-Brahmapur Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU), Cuttack-Paradeep-Cuttack MEMU, Bhubaneswar-Brahmapur-Bhubaneswar passenger train from both the directions.
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Among the trains that were partially cancelled included Palasa-Cuttack-Palasa passenger that will run between Palasa and Mancheswar and will remain cancelled between Mancheswar and Cuttack from both the directions, said an official statement of the Indian Railways. Puri-Gunupur-Puri passenger train will remain cancelled between Puri and Brahmapur and will run between Brahmapur and Gunupur from both the directions.

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 09:28 IST
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