Normal life was disrupted in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, with shops, bazaars, shopping malls and other commercial establishments remaining shut in response to the Bharat bandh called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and other parties.
Most urban areas and major highways in Punjab wore a deserted with public transport being off the roads. Schools also remained closed. The bandh was called to protest against recent decisions of Union government like foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, hike in diesel prices and reduction in subsidy of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders for household use.
The bandh was peaceful. No untoward incident was reported from any part of the state till reports last came in. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab claimed overwhelming support to the bandh call given by the SAD-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance in the state.
In a statement released by the party head office here on Thursday, party secretary and spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that according to reports received from all district headquarters, the bandh was complete and peaceful.
Cheema said that at all district headquarters, senior leaders of the SAD-BJP alliance, party MLAs, MPs and other office bearers, accompanied by leaders of trade and social organisations, submitted a detailed memorandum to the respective deputy commissioners for the President, demanding the decisions should be rolled backed without any delay.
In Uttar Pradesh, all major markets and business establishments across the state were shut.
Barring sporadic incidents of disruption of train movement at some places, the day, by and large, passed off peacefully in the state.
Workers of the Samajwadi Party (SP), which supported the bandh, put a lock on the entrance of Bharti Walmart’s store on Sultanpur Road in Lucknow. The women wing of the party was also seen asking traders to down their shutters in some markets.
According to the UP home department, train movement was disrupted at 19 places by bandh supporters and the Agra-Gwalior highway was blocked by protesters. However, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere till the time of filing of this report.
While there was no order for the closure of schools and colleges in the state, some educational institutions voluntarily declared a holiday as a preemptive step.
The intercity and highway public transport systems functioned normally and emergency services, such as hospitals and medical shops, were exempt from the bandh.
Banks, government and private offices functioned normally, although attendance was rather thin. The roads wore deserted look with people preferring to stay indoors, apprehending trouble.