Bharat Bandh: Meek response, business as usual in city

Bharat Bandh: Meek response, business as usual in city

People stayed home fearing unavailability of public transport, services

KSRTC buses parked inside the Kempegowda Bus Station in Bengaluru on Tuesday, the first day of the two-day Bharath bandh called by several organisations. DH Photo/Ranju P

The two-day Bharat Bandh called by All India Trade Unions evoked a rather meek response in Bengaluru on Tuesday. City life went ahead as normal as any other day.

Public transport, commercial establishments and other services woke up to the day as usual. Businesses, however, were severely hit by low public turnout. Most people stayed home fearing unavailability of public transport and other services.

Meanwhile, in the city, AIUTUC, CITU, INTUC, HMS, TUCC, AIDEF and other trade unions - along with the support of pro-Kannada organisations - staged a protest rally from Town Hall to Freedom Park.

Protestors raised slogans against the Centre and vowed to continue the agitation on Wednesday too. BMTC, KSRTC, autorickshaws, metro and a few private cab operators were seen plying as usual. However, most of the BMTC and KSRTC services ran empty. The peak-hour rush was missing.

“We started our operation as usual. Depending on the people’s response we will take a call whether to stop the service or not. We can see most of the BMTC and KSRTC buses are running empty. It will be a huge burden on us if we operate like this for two days,” a senior KSRTC official told DH.

Due to low people turnout, frequency of metro trains was increased to a train every 7th minute. School and college buses were off the roads as most schools and colleges in the city had declared holiday on Tuesday and Wednesday in advance. 

The shutdown had almost no effect at the Kempegowda International Airport. Cabs and airport bus services, including the fly buses to Mysuru and other places, were pressed into service. The police, meanwhile, restricted entry to trade union members inside the airport premises.  

Hotels and other commercial establishments were open for business as usual. Police personnel kept a strict vigil across the city in order to avoid untoward incidents. Malls and movie halls, too, functioned. Though there was speculation about the functioning of malls and movie halls on the Bharat Bandh day, most of them were open. However, the proprietors seemed worried about the poor response from the masses.

Partial govt support put people in a fix

While many private commercial establishments were forced to shutdown over fear of damage, government offices went about work without any hiccups. B Raju, an industrialist said: “Last time when there was a bandh we were told by the police to shutdown as our shops and commercial spaces could be damaged by the agitators. So, this time we did not open. But, that is not the case with government offices. We suffered financial losses, but, government departments worked. We wonder whether it was a partial government-supported bandh. The government agencies make money, while private companies suffer.”

Police book cases against autos, cabs

As the bandh failed to make an impact on life in Bengaluru, the Bengaluru Traffic Police went all out and booked several cases on autos and cabs refusing to ferry passengers. According to the traffic police, as many as 772 cases were booked in all the 44 traffic police stations limits for demanding excess fare. Similarly, a total of 667 cases were registered against auto and cab drivers for refusing to go on hire. The police collected about Rs 1.5 lakh as fine from the offenders.


Not much impact on IT industry

Apprehensive about employees’ safety due to traffic disruptions in lieu of bandh called by trade unions, the IT sector heaved a sigh of relief as the day passed peacefully.

Contrary to the fear, almost all companies witnessed more than 70% attendance of their employees, including the manufacturing and service industries in Peenya, where the trade unions have an active presence.

Sources in the industry revealed to DH that a few of the executives opted to work from home as they were working on important projects.

Industry majors like Infosys, TCS, Wipro witnessed more than 70% attendance while a few companies like Tata Elxsi declared a day off to its employees.

NetApp office at Whitefield had to stop operations as striking workers assembled in front of the office prompting the authorities to provide staffers with an option to work from home.

The IT employees union ARISE affiliated to AITUC and Forum of IT employees (FITE) had expressed support for the bandh.