Police in Andhra Pradesh arrested leaders of the Left parties and trade unions as they tried to stop state-owned buses and staged road blockade on Wednesday as part of the nation-wide shutdown.
Protesters were arrested in Vijayawada, Guntur, Ongole, Visakhapatnam, Kadapa and other towns when they tried to stop buses of the Road Transport Corporation (RTC) from coming out of the depots.
Holding their respective party flags, leaders of Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), other Left parties and trade unions, who have called for the strike, squatted on the roads, raising slogans against the 'anti-people' and 'anti-worker' policies of the Narendra Modi government.
The protesters, including activists of Muslim and other minority groups, also demanded revocation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act. They raised slogans against National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
At Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), striking employees along with leaders of trade unions and leaders of the Left parties staged a protest demonstration. Trade unions claimed that 30,000 employees of the steel plant are taking part in 'Bharat bandh'. The protesters raised slogans of 'POSCO go back'. They demanded that the government drop plans to privatise VSP in the guise of joint venture with the South Korean steel-maker POSCO.
The leaders and activists of the Left parties tried to disrupt RTC services in Vijayawada, Guntur and Ongole.
The Left parties and Congress staged a road blockade on Vijayawada-Hyderabad national highway. CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna was among those arrested by the police. Ramakrishna condemned the arrests of peaceful protesters.
Ramakrishna condemned his arrest and that of CPM and Congress leaders in Vijayawada. "We have called for the bandh only to protest the anti- people policies of the BJP-led Central government but police are displaying overzealousness," he said.
He alleged that the Narendra Modi government is adopting anti-people policies. "We are demanding the government to protect public sector undertakings and safeguard the interests of employees and workers," he said. The CPI leader said the government should rollback CAA and drop its plans to conduct NPR and NRC.
Reports from Tirupati said police prevented youth organisations from carrying the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a 'shava yatra.'
Employees reportedly stayed off duties in various public sector undertakings, mostly in Visakhapatnam. Most of the banks remained shut.
Banking services in Telangana affected
Banking services across Telangana were severely hit by the nationwide strike called by various trade unions protesting the central government's 'anti-people' policies on Wednesday. However, most of the shops and business establishments were open while transport services remained unaffected.
The strike by as many as three lakh employees and workers was underway with the participation of members of various trade unions in the state, senior leader of Telangana CPI, Sudhakar said.
Operations in all public sector banks except SBI were affected.
"All public sector banks employees are participating in the strike. There are no counter operations such as cash deposits or withdrawals at banks. Even though officers are participating in the strike, they extended cooperation," All India Bank Employees Association National Secretary B S Rambabu told PTI.
A senior official of SBI said there was no impact of strike on the bank's operations as its officers and award staff associations decided to stay away from Bharat Bandh.
The state-owned Singareni Collieries Company said, though some of its employees were on strike, there will not be much impact on coal production.
Telangana CPI said there will be "gate meetings" and dharnas across the state as part of the Bharat Bandh.
The central trade unions are protesting against labour reforms, FDI, disinvestment, corporatisation and privatisation policies and pressing for a 12-point common demand charter of the working class relating to minimum wage and social security, among others.
With inputs from PTI and IANS