Left Leaders Detained, Shutdown Hits Delhi

Thursday, 31 May 2012, 09:29 Hrs
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New Delhi: The 12-hour shutdown against fuel price hike hit normal life in the national capital as commuters bore the brunt of roadblocks and protests in several parts of the city.

By afternoon, prominent leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - one of the many political parties which had called for the nation-wide shutdown - courted arrest, demanding complete rollback of the hike.

"This (arrest) is part of the big struggle against petrol price rise. The Left is protesting unwarranted, unjustified and unprecedented hike in petrol prices," said Brinda Karat, CPI-M leader.

"We will protest till there is complete rollback," she added.

Left party leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, and D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) were detained at the Daryaganj police station. Party workers raised slogans against the central government and blocked vehicles from plying on roads.

While protests hit vehicular movement in parts of the city, commuters braved a harrowing time. With auto-rickshaw unions also joining the strike, nearly 55,000 autos and 15,000 taxis were believed to have stayed off the road in the capital.

Delhi's only dependable option - the Metro train - was also jam-packed, adding to the commuters' woes.

"Autos are not plying and buses are anyway known for their low frequency. The only option for commuters is Metro train, which is jam-packed," Sudisha Bhola, textile engineer, told IANS.

"At the Rajiv Chowk Metro station, there was a near-stampede like situation. The Metro was also running slow," Bhola, commuting to Gurgaon from Rajiv Chowk, added.

As traffic was moving at snail's pace in many parts of the city, people chose to stay at home to avoid inconvenience.

"I came back home after seeing crowds protesting on NH-24 (National Highway-24). The road was blocked and there was no point heading through that road," Delhi resident Smita Srinivasan told IANS.

Popular markets and commercial centres such as Chandni Chowk and Laxmi Nagar wore a deserted look as around 300 trader associations supported the shutdown.

"The very fact that this shutdown is being followed on such a large scale all over India shows that the common man won't tolerate price hikes and is frustrated by the government's current scheme of things," said Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Source: IANS
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