The two-day strike called by trade unions across the country entered the second day on Thursday. Normal banking operations were hit for the second day today as public sector bank employees continued their strike. It was, however, business as usual at private sector banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank. Employees of public sector insurance companies, including LIC and New India Assurance, also participated in the strike.
At least 65 people have been arrested for vandalising factories in Noida Phase 2 and setting 25 vehicles on fire, media reports said on Thursday. According to reports, schools in Noida are going to remain closed due to the violence on Wednesday. The police is on high-alert in Noida on the second day of the strike, according to reports.
Over 25 vehicles were set ablaze and several industrial units damaged as the nationwide strike by trade unions on Wednesday turned violent.
Banks were closed and public transport disrupted on Wednesday because of the strike called by trade unions to protest against high prices, disinvestment in public sector enterprises and to demand more jobs.
However, the financial markets remained open.
Panel to probe Noida violence
A two-member panel has been formed to probe the violence in Noida that broke out on the first day of the two-day countrywide shutdown, leaving many people injured and property worth crores gutted, said authorities.
The state government late Wednesday named additional director general of police (law and order) Arun Kumar and home secretary Rakesh as members of the probe committee and asked them to submit a fact finding report within three days.
Principal secretary (Home) RM Srivastava said that "toughest action" would be taken against those found guilty of violence.
The committee has been asked to look into the state of preparedness of the Noida police to handle the shutdown and identify district officials guilty of dereliction of duty.
"The government has taken a serious note of the whole episode, wherein properties were gutted, people were beaten up and several vehicles were set on fire. There should be no doubt that the government would crack down on all found guilty," Srivastava said.
Violence erupted Wednesday in Noida and Greater Noida where factories were targeted and set on fire. Violent clashes took place and several vehicles were set afire.
Officials have started screening the video footage of the violence in order to identify and book the perpetrators.
"We are also exploring possibilities of slapping the National Security Act (NSA) on the rioters," a senior official said.
State government sources said chief minister Akhilesh Yadav was particularly miffed at the Noida violence as he views it as a big blow to his efforts to create a pro-investment climate in Uttar Pradesh.
"The chief minister has taken a serious note of the clashes as it could send a wrong signal that industries are not safe in UP," an official said.
Central trade unions have called a two-day nationwide strike in support of their various demands including urgent steps to control price rise, strict enforcement of labour laws in all places of work, social security net for workers in the unorganised sector, end to disinvestment in PSUs.
Day 2: Kerala remains paralysed
Normal life in Kerala was paralysed as the two-day nationwide strike entered the second day today with workers from most sectors ranging from transport to banking keeping away from work.
Reports from across the state said buses and taxis were off the roads and markets remained shut. Train and air services were not affected.
Attendance in government offices was thin and educational institutions remained closed as pro-Left service and teachers unions joined the strike.
Universities have cancelled examinations scheduled for the last two days.
Barring stray incidents of minor violence, the state had remained peaceful since yesterday. Police in their vehicles facilitated the short-distance
travels of train and air passengers, who arrived in the state unaware of the hartal atmosphere.
Day 1: Bharat bandh
Violence erupted in some places on the first day of a two-day strike as workers, angry about high fuel prices in particular, tried to keep vehicles off the roads.
One union member was killed in Ambala.
Taking a serious note, Divisional Commissioner Meerut has ordered a inquiry into the violence by a senior official.
The SHO has been transferred and attached to police lines, while two policemen and as many fire personnel were injured in the violence.
Workers went on a rampage in Noida Phase 2 area and damaged industrial properties and set vehicles, including a fire brigade, on fire.
Workers clashed with factory owners in a hosiery complex in Noida Phase 2 and damaged industrial properties.
Other affected areas in Noida are sectors 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 67, 81, 82. Protesters pelted stones and damaged vehicles in Phase III industrial area under sectors 58 and 59.
"Violence erupted around 12 noon in Noida Phase 2 in the Hosiery complex area. When fire tender reached there to extinguish the burning vehicles protesters had set it ablaze too," chief fire officer Aman Sharma said.
About 25 vehicles were set on fire during the protest.
Two firemen too suffered minor injuries, he said adding, 25 fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire.
Meerut divisional commissioner, Mritunjay Kumar Naryan, who visited the violence-hit areas, said, "additional commissioner Ajay Shankar Pandey will conduct the inquiry and submit report in next three days."
"I assured the industrialists that additional police force will be deployed tomorrow and they can run their factories," he said.
"A case has been registered at Noida Phase 2 police station. 50 protesters have been arrested and search hunt was on for others involved in the violence," a police spokesman said.
The two-day strike has been called by trade unions including Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).
The unions have demanded measures for containing inflation, steps for employment generation, universal social security, and making the minimum wage Rs. 10,000 per month.