Major Indian trade unions have called for a two-day strike starting on Wednesday, as the beleaguered government prepares to present an austerity budget to parliament and weather a corruption scandal in a big arms deal.
Financial services, mining and transport were affected by the strike, called by all major trade unions to protest high inflation, a fuel price increase and what they say are violations of labour laws.
The hike impacted India partially with states like West Bengal hit more though with lesser fury of the bandhs in the past. Here is a look at how the bandh has affected some major cities in the country.
Strike disrupts life in Delhi
Commuters had a tough time in the national capital with cabs and autos off the roads, leaving them with no option but to either miss work or pack into metro trains and buses. And that was how it was in many parts of the country.
The opening day of the 48 hour- country-wide strike called by central trade unions evoked a mixed response in Delhi as banks were closed and large number of auto-rickshaws and taxis stayed off the roads while shops remained open throughout the day.
The Delhi Metro saw heavy passenger rush during the peak hours in the morning and evening. Though state-run Delhi Transport Corporation buses were on the roads, it did not provide much relief to people as autorickshaws went off the roads.
"I had to pay Rs 180 for a autorickshaw ride from Moti Bag to Central Secretariat. The fare for the stretch in a normal day is around Rs 80," said Ajeet Singh, a government official.
Five major auto-rickshaw and taxi unions have joined the strike to demand a hike in auto and taxi fares.
The Delhi government, however, claimed that the strike did not have any impact on the transport sector. Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami said commuters did not face any inconvenience as enough buses were pressed into service.
A total of 5,117 DTC buses were deployed today against an average of about 5,000 buses, he said. Another 3,094 private buses including 1,870 mini buses, 283 Metro feeder buses and around 800 contract carriage buses were also pressed into service.
"In total, around 8,000 buses were on the roads to ferry passengers," Goswami said.
To tackle the strike, the city government had cancelled leave of all DTC employees and asked senior officials of the corporation to be at bus depots from early morning to ensure smooth functioning of the DTC bus service.
The government put "all sorts" of pressure so that they do not go on strike, a section of the DTC employees claimed.
Though police said no violence was reported during the strike, a minor clash erupted in New Delhi Railway stations between two trade union members and police intervened to disperse them.
Clashes in Noida
In Uttar Pradesh, Over 10,000 government-run buses stayed off the roads due to the strike. In Noida Phase-II, protestors burned cars during their agitation. Over 1,000 trade union workers protested and vandalised cars, setting vehicles on fire.
In Noida, Uttar Pradesh, close to the national capital, mobs attacked factories and set vehicles afire.
In Noida Phase 2 area, workers clashed with factory owners in a hosiery complex and set ablaze vehicles prompting authorities to deploy PAC in the area. Workers went on a rampage and damaged industrial properties, police said.
From Sector 82 till Greater Noida entry point, which is the industrial belt, workers set ablaze a car, bus and a fire engine, police said.
"People just barged in, looted everything in sight and even tore our registers," an industrialist said while another said every single building in the hosiery complex had their windows broken and many vehicles were set on fire.
Financial sector crippled in Mumbai
The strike call in the country's financial hub Mumbai witnessed near cent per cent participation by employees from banking and insurance sector leaving their operations totally paralysed.
India's financial sector was crippled Wednesday all banks, insurance companies and commercial establishments in this commercial capital remained shut on the first of the two-day nationwide strike, organisers said.
There were few people commuting to industrial hubs in and around Mumbai like Andheri, Bhandup, Vasai, Palghar, Dahanu, Dombivli and Panvel, as all workers' unions have supported the strike.
"The banking and financial sector is 100 percent closed not only in Mumbai and Maharashtra but all over the country," AIBEA vice president Vishwas Utagi said.
Attempts were made to halt buses in Mumbai and trains in the western suburbs but police foiled most of these efforts.
Strike disrupts transport, banking services in Punjab, Haryana
The impact of the strike was felt on public transport services as majority of state owned buses plying on inter-state routes in Punjab and Haryana remained off the roads.
In Haryana, bus driver Narender Singh, who was also the treasurer of AITUC, was killed when he tried to stop a bus which was being taken out from the Ambala Depot despite the strike, district president, Haryana Roadways Workers Union's, Inder Singh Bhadana said.
Maruti Suzuki plants in Gurgaon could be shut Thursday as the workers decided to join the strike.
West Bengal: Mamata says no work, no pay
Life was partially affected in Trinamool Congress ruled-West Bengal with shops, markets and business establishments closed in many parts of Kolkata while government run buses and trams operated in large numbers.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is against bandhs and had warned government employees from remaining absent, claimed attendance at the state secretariat, Writers' Buildings, was 100 per cent.
Mamata, though, claimed most shops and markets were open in the metropolis.
Private buses and taxis were less, though state buses were present in large number on the roads, police sources said.
Mamata had also asked the Election Commission to ban political parties that called shutdowns.
"It is my humble request to the Election Commission... whichever party calls a 'bandh' (shutdown), let them be banned," she said, evoking criticism from opposition and unions.
Flight services were normal in West Bengal and trains plied despite minor disruptions but buses, taxis and auto rickshaws largely kept off the roads.
She said strikes were not the right way to protest against government policies in a democracy.
She alleged that parties that supported the 48-hour strike called by the central trade unions against inflation and several policies of the union government did not have the "courage" to move a no-confidence motion in parliament against the Congress-led UPA government.
Banerjee claimed buses were plying and over 50 per cent of shops were open.
"I salute my working class for rejecting the strike. It is an emergency situation for the state as it has been facing a huge debt burden. So we cannot afford any shutdowns," she said.
She added that most departments of the state secretariat, Writers' Building, witnessed full attendance.
Strike peaceful in Karnataka: one incident of stone pelting
Barring stray incidents of stone pelting in Bellary, the nationwide strike called by 11 trade unions in support of their demands evoked a mixed response across Karnataka today.
Sources said some persons pelted stones at some buses and blocked roads in Bellary while normal life was hit in Koppal, with buses, autorickshaws and other transport off the roads, officials said.
In tech hub Bangalore, software majors such as Infosys and Wipro worked normally but state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, Indian Telephones Industries and Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd remained shut. Normal life remained unaffected in most Karnataka towns.
No buses or autos in Gujarat and Rajasthan
In Gujarat, 8,500 government buses were off roads and banks remained shut. In Rajasthan, buses and autos remained off the roads while banking and insurance sectors were also hit.
Bandh impacts coal production in Andhra Pradesh
Coal production and transportation were impacted in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The strike also hit Vishakapatnam Steel Plant in Andhra Pradesh.
Near complete shutdown in Kerala
The shutdown was pretty much total in Kerala, where the Left is not in power but has significant influence, and in Left-ruled Tripura.
"The price rise is unbearable. There has to be a way out," said Kerala's Agricultural Minister K.P. Mohanan, who belongs to the ruling Congress party.
Early reports said buses and taxis were off the roads and shops and restaurants remained closed. Train services were not affected.
Trains, road services hit in Bihar
Thousands of people were stranded across Bihar Wednesday as trains were stopped and key highways blocked by activists affiliated to various trade unions that have called for a nationwide two-day strike.
Workers of trade unions stopped nearly a dozen passenger and long-distance trains at Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad, Hajipur, Bhagalpur and Darbhanga railway stations.
In Bihar, the government postponed the Class 12 examination scheduled for Feb 20 and 21 to the first week of March.
Trade union strike partially affects industry in Jharkhand
"Barring Argada and Jari collieries in Hazaribagh district, other collieries of the Central Coalfields Limited have been functioning normally. There is 90 per cent coal production in the collieries," CCL Manager (Public Relations) Deepak Kumar claimed here.
Union workers in Goa join nationwide strike
As many as 13 trade unions in Goa have joined the two-day nationwide strike to protest the "anti-people" policies of the Centre.