New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The final day of a two-day all-India industrial strike crippled industrial and financial sectors here and hit hard public transport Thursday, inconveniencing tens of thousands.
Banks and insurance companies were crippled across the city. And 29 industrial areas with over one lakh small and big factories all across the capital were shut for a second straight day, union leaders said.
These included industrial units spread across Patparganj, Pandav Nagar, Okhla, Bawana, Jhilmil, Mayapuri, Wazirpur, Naraina, Nazafgarh, GT Karnal Road, Kirti Nagar, Narela, Mangolpuri and Udyog Vihar.
"All factories are shut," Patparganj industrial area president Sanjay Rastogi told IANS.
Members of the country's leading trade unions that called the two-day shutdown to protest the government's economic policies held noisy protests in various areas.
In the Okhla industrial estate in south Delhi, a flash mob attacked at least eight garment factories. The mob dispersed only when security forces intervened.
Police later detained six people.
With thousands of autorickshaws going off the roads, commuters had a tough time.
But Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami claimed this was not true.
"Commuters did not face any difficulty," he said, adding that the Delhi Transport Corporation plied 5,117 buses and that the Delhi government had put into service more buses at railway stations and bus terminals.
Jamia Nagar resident Shabbir Ansari admitted there were more buses Thursday compared to the first day of the strike Wednesday.
The strike proved to be a bonanza for the few autorickshaws that plied as well as cycle rickshaw pullers who made a killing.
Union leaders said about 70,000 autorickshaws and 20,000 taxis went off the roads.
Rajendra Soni of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh told IANS that the government had not raised auto fares although CNG prices had gone up nine times.
The unions have demanded concrete measures for containing inflation, employment generation and universal social security and fixing the minimum wage at Rs.10,000 a month.
"We tried our best to avoid the strike but the government declined to meet our genuine demands," P. Jayaraju of the Indian National Trade Union Congress told IANS.
Delhi Metro reported more commuters than usual. Metro ridership at 8 p.m. Wednesday was 16.29 lakh, up from Tuesday's 15.83 lakh.