India's financial sector, including public-sector banks, were shut
and transport affected in large parts of the country during the
last day of a two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions
Thursday to protest government's economic policies they say has
led to inflation and job cuts.
The second day of the strike was largely peaceful, except for some
violence in the national capital where a flash mob attacked at
least 12 factories, and in West Bengal's Jalangi in Murshidabad
district where a panchayat worker's ear was chopped off allegedly
by supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
A day after violence rocked Noida, a suburb near Delhi, 400 of the
1,200 industrial units resumed work. But, around 200 workers
pelted stones at a factory, breaking windows and damaging
vehicles. Police later arrested five people,
The banking sector was the worst hit as one million employees
"Around one million bankers struck work. The two-day strike
affected the clearance of around 14 million cheques valued around
Rs.800 million," C.H. Venkatachalam, general secretary of the All
India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), told IANS.
The 11 trade unions, including the ruling Congress' Indian Trade
Union Congress (INTUC), had called the shutdown and asked the
government to enforce their 10-point charter, which includes
controlling inflation and price rise, generating more jobs and
enforcing labour laws.
The trade unions said they will soon launch a bigger agitation.
"The two-day countrywide agitation has been successful but we will
launch a bigger agitation and this is only a beginning of the
chapter," All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary
Gurudas Dasgupta said here.
"It is not us but the government which is responsible for the
strike, which has reportedly caused a loss of 26,000 crore rupees.
Had they paid heed to our demands, it would not have happened," he
said when asked about strike's ramifications on the economy.
The impact was seen in the parliament too.
The Left parties boycotted President Pranab Mukherjee's first
address to the joint sitting of the two houses of parliament as a
mark of protest.
Before the address, members of the Communist Party of
India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the
Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Forward Bloc raised
slogans against the government policies and waved placards inside
the parliament complex.
In the national capital, the industrial and financial sectors were
crippled and public transport was badly hit, inconveniencing tens
of thousands. Around 29 industrial areas with over 100,000 small
and big factories all across the capital were shut for a second
straight day, union leaders said.
In the Okhla industrial estate in south Delhi, a flash mob
attacked at least 12 garment factories. The mob dispersed only
when security forces intervened.
The shutdown was pretty much total in Kerala, where the Left is
not in power but has influence, and in Left ruled Tripura.
Most markets, shops and business establishments, government
offices, educational institutions, banks and financial
institutions were shut in many parts of the country. Barring
private vehicles, public transport remained off roads too.
In West Bengal, the situation was a little different. Transport
services returned to normal, but the state's industrial sector was
A panchayat worker's ear was chopped off, allegedly by supporters
of the ruling Trinamool Congress for not attending office on the
first day of the strike Wednesday. The Trinamool Congress has
opposed the stir.
The attack took place when panchayat worker Hazrat Omar arrived at
More than 100,000 workers joined the strike in the sprawling
industrial belt in Gurgaon, bordering Delhi, with all four Maruti
Suzuki plants closing down.
"Because of Wednesday's violence at Noida, small and medium-scale
industries in the belt declared a one-day holiday Thursday,"
Jaspal Rana of Hind Mazdoor Sabha told IANS.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) said
the violence during the two-day strike would shake investors'
confidence in the Indian economy.
Assocham pegs the loss to the economy due to the two-day strike at
"A loss of about Rs.26,000 crore estimated by the Assocham should
have been avoided at a time when the economy is battling one of
the worst slowdowns," it said.