Bharat Bandh lukewarm; MNS, Congress take potshots at Shiv Sena

By Team mid day | Mumbai

While Raj Thackeray sought to take credit for strike, Congress said the Shiv Sena should have stood with the anti-BJP front

Protesters participate in a 'chakka jam' on the Eastern Express Highway near the Teen Haath Junction in Thane. Pic/Sameer Markande

The so-called 'Bharat Bandh,' called on Monday to protest rising petrol prices, thankfully did not fuel any fire. Supported by three political parties, it remained largely peaceful, allowing citizens to go about their day with little hindrance as roads, railways and the Metro were only momentarily affected by demonstrations.

The bandh had been called by the Congress, while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had extended their support for it. The parties staged demonstrations and rasta rokos across the city as part of their protests. Shops and other commercial establishments in Dadar, Dahisar, Borivli, Mulund and Chembur complied with the parties' request and chose to remain shut, while those in areas like Andheri, Juhu and Santacruz remained open.


Congress workers held a rasta roko in Borivli on the Western Express Highway. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Congestion on EEH
In Kalyan, Thane and Navi Mumbai, all shops were closed from 11 am to 3 pm. MNS, Congress and NCP blocked traffic at Teen Hath Naka, along EEH in Thane. Commuters faced congestion from Nitin Company junction to Teen Hath Naka. But after 3 pm, everything slowly went back to normal.

Cops were able to maintain law and order for most of the day. There were a few instance of stone pelting and attempts to stall road, rail as well as Metro traffic. Cops detained 882 people across the city and released most of them subsequently; six of them have been arrested. Eight cases related to the protests were reported in different police stations, but no serious offence or act was witnessed during protests, that faded after 4 pm.


Congress leader Madhu Chavan and NCP leader Chitra Wagh were arrested alongwith other party workers outside Palace at Byculla (East) while staging a rasta roko. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Lifelines slightly affected
Mumbai's lifeline, the railways, was only minimally affected. The Central Railway saw stray incidents of political activists jumping on tracks with flags for a photo-op at Ghatkopar and Bhandup. The Western Railway saw some disturbance in the morning, when former chief minister Ashok Chavan led protests at Andheri station. RPF and railway police were able to clear the tracks by 10 am. On the Metro, services suffered for some time around 9.30 am, after a group of MNS workers tried to stop the train at D N Nagar station. Security personnel quickly moved them away. On the roads, traffic on the arterial EEH, WEH, New Link road and S V Road was a little less than the usual.

As it is with most bandhs, BEST buses incurred heavy damages, with about 17 buses being damaged. A BEST official said, "Buses were damaged at Vashi Naka, Chembur, Lalbaug, Kandivli, Goregaon, Byculla, Parel TT and Pratiksha Nagar Sion. In all the cases, windshields were shattered, leaving the bus paralysed."

Violence in Pune
The situation in Pune was not as peaceful. MNS protesters were largely seen creating violence in the city. Around 8 am, a public transport bus was attacked with stones, while a few protesters were detained before they tried to jump on railway tracks and create chaos on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. In Pune city, most of the case have been filed against MNS workers for rioting and vandalising the public property. Three FIRs were filed and more than 29 protestors were detained all over Pune. Kolhapur saw violent protests too, with two groups of protesters fighting among themselves.

Also Read: Bharat Bandh: Mumbai cops tackle protestors at Andheri railway station. Watch video

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