Mixed response to shutdown in Karnataka

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 20, 2013 10:00 hrs

Bangalore: The two-day nationwide shutdown called by trade unions began on a mixed note Wednesday across Karnataka amid tight security and heavy deployment of police personnel to maintain law and order.

In India's tech hub, software majors like Infosys and Wipro worked normally, though Infosys declared a holiday at its development centre in Mysore, 150 km from Bangalore, as employees would have trouble commuting.

State-run behemoths like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), Indian Telephones Industries (ITI) and Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd (HMT) shut down, with their unions responding to the call and staging demonstrations and rallies in support of their demands.

Though three-wheeler auto-rickshaws remained off-roads in several areas across this city, skeletal state-run and private bus services affected public transportation, causing hardship to commuters, especially those at railway stations and inter-state bus terminals.

"The situation is under control so far as no untoward incident was reported from across the city, barring stray incidents of forcible closure of petty shops, eateries and general stores by left-wing students going around the city on motor bikes to enforce the shutdown," a senior police official told IANS here.

With schools and colleges closed as a pre-cautionary measure and attendance in government and private offices less than usual, vehicular movement remained hassle-free on a working day in the absence of public transport and buses.

Banking transactions insurance and postal operations remained suspended in the state with over a million employees of state-run and private banks, insurance firms and post offices participating in the shutdown to protest disinvestment and outsourcing of many of their institutional functions.

Contrary to fears and uncertainty over the impact of a total shutdown, the day began normally with essential commodities, including dairy products, groceries and vegetables available in markets and residential areas.

Thousands of bank employees and workers, including trade union leaders assembled at Freedom Park in central Bangalore after leading protest rallies from their respective offices and factories from Mysore Bank on Majestic Road to the denoted venue.

According to reports from across the state, normal life remained unaffected in towns and was partially hit in cities as the presence of left parties and trade unionism is not as intense as in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad in northern region.

"There is an overwhelming response to the shutdown call from our comrades from across the state and country as banking and financial operations have come to a standstill and other public services are severely hit. We hope the central government will take note of the public anger and moral indignation against its anti-people policies and executive decisions, which are making living difficult due to price rise, jobless growth, corruption, infrastructure bottlenecks, etc," central trade unions' general secretary Prasanna Kumar said at the protest meet.

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