A typical 'Hubballi bandh' returned to the City on Monday, during the 'Bharat Bandh' call given by the Congress Party against fuel price hike and price rise, as the bandh call received a very good response, and it was near total here.
Almost everything was closed in the Chennamma Circle area, the heart of the City, and central commercial district with marketplaces and commercial streets, with a few commercial firms on interior roads and except hospitals, medical shops remaining open. The NWKRTC and Bendre Transport Service had suspended their bus services, and a holiday was declared for schools and colleges. Government offices and banks functioned with less staff and visitors, and some with half-closed doors.
As various organisations including Left parties and trade unions supported the bandh call, a series of protests were staged at Chennamma Circle. The protesters moved on bikes, asking shopkeepers to down their shutters. There were a few incidents of protesters forcing shops to close down, especially a hotel in front of Old Bus Stand.
At Harsha Complex, when protesters entered there asking to close down shops, some shop-keepers shouted 'Modi, Modi', and this led to a verbal clash. Police intervened, and pacified both the parties, while most of the shops were closed.
The bandh was almost voluntary in most of the places, and only fruit and flower sellers were at Janata Bazaar, MG Market, and other marketplaces, but visitors were very less. Cinema halls and other establishments were also closed, but a few petrol pumps in extension areas were open.
However, the heat of the bandh was not experienced in residential areas and extension areas, where all services were available. Though protesters stopped some autorickshaws and other vehicles at Chennamma Circle in the morning, autorickshaw movement started later, and it was as usual in other areas. However, auto drivers demanded very high fare for the journey.
The bandh protests started with Congress workers burning a tyre at Chennamma Circle. Soon, JD(S) workers also came there and burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Buses remained off the roads, and most of the commercial firms did not open their doors.
'Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao', 'Bring down fuel prices', and 'Where is Achche Din?' were the common slogans. The protesters of various organisations took out separate rallies, and their common destination was Chennamma Circle. JD(S) workers tried to picket MP Pralhad Joshi's office also.
Day-to-day activities were affected to some extent, but it was not so in all areas.
Those who came to bus stand early morning and those who came by train or to catch a train faced serious inconvenience. Office-goers also experienced inconvenience. Life returned to normalcy after 5:00 pm, as shops opened one by one, and bus movement started.
Heavy police bundobust was arranged, citizens experienced inconvenience, but the bandh was largely peaceful.
As around 400 buses of the NWKRTC's Hubballi division did not operate due to the bandh, the corporations experienced around Rs 50 lakh loss. Even after bus operations started in the evening, the number of passengers was less, NWKRTC officials said.