TN bandh evokes mixed response; Stalin others court arrest

TN bandh evokes mixed response; Stalin others court arrest

TN bandh evokes mixed response; Stalin others court arrest
 Normal life was today partially hit in Tamil Nadu by the dawn-to-dusk bandh called by DMK-led opposition parties in support of drought-hit farmers.

Shops and business establishments downed their shutters while functioning of government and private offices besides public transport services remained largely unaffected.

DMK Working President M K Stalin, who was among hundreds of persons arrested for staging protests across the state, claimed that the bandh was a total success.

Besides DMK, Congress, CPI(M), CPI, VCK and IUML apart from trade unions affiliated to them, farmers bodies and the film fraternity supported the shutdown, which was also observed in neighbouring union territory of Puducherry.

The bandh call, which evoked a mixed response, was not supported by both factions of AIADMK, BJP, MDMK, PMK and TMC.

State Ministers Sellur Raju and Dindigul C Sreenivasan termed the bandh as "totally unnecessary."
Srineevasan dismissed the shutdown as "a publicity seeking exercise" which, he said, will not cut ice with the people.

He said the state government had taken all steps to address the farmers' grievances, including adequate relief.

Barring a few incidents of stone pelting, the shutdown was by and large peaceful, police said.
The strike was marked by agitations, road and rail blockades with shops and establishments, vegetable markets and cinema halls remaining shut in several parts of the state.

However, public transport, including train and bus services, were largely unaffected.Private cab services operated though a major chunk of autorickshaws remained off the roads. Though banks and private offices functioned normally, a section of bank employees staged a protest on the arterial Anna Salai here in support of the bandh.

They were led by All India Bank Employees Association C H Venkatachalam and CITU leader A Soundararajan.

The shutdown call was given at an "all-party" meeting covened by Stalin asking the central and state governments to fulfil the demands of farmers and farm labourers.

They sought adequate relief, loan waiver by nationalised banks and setting up of Cauvery Management Board to address non-availability of water for irrigation.

Stalin along with former Union Minister T R Baalu and others courted arrest after staging a 'road roko' in the Cauvery delta town of Tiruvarur.

Cadres of DMK, CPI(M), CPI and others were also detained by police. All of them were let off in the evening.
Speaking to reporters, Stalin said the shutdown was a total success and urged the state and Central governments to address the farmers' issues.

He also raised the alleged imposition of Hindi on the people of the state. He said Dravidian parties were against 'thrusting' of Hindi since 1938 and if the Centre wanted them to fight in this regard, DMK was prepared to launch an agitation.

He warned that DMK would launch the next level of agitation if the Centre "continued to ignore" the problems of farmers.

Farmers' leader P Ayyakannu and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasu took part in the agitation in the state capital.

Ayyakannu, who had led the 40-day protest by a group of farmers in New Delhi, said it had attracted nation-wide attention and helped highlight the plight of ryots.

Tamil Nadu All Farmers Federations President P R Pandian and other leaders blocked an express train at Kulikkarai near Tiruvarur.

They claimed stones were pelted at them by some unidentified persons from the train, leading to mild injuries to some. Pandian fainted in the melee, they said.

Reports from districts, including Erode and Coimbatore, said the bandh evoked good response in the regions.

In textile cities of Coimbatore and nearby Tirupur, majority of industries including apparel, knitwear, and MSMES were shut down affecting production.

Tourist hub of Nilgris District was affected as hotels, eateries and shops closed down, hitting normal life.
Opposition parties including DMK, Congress, CPI(M), CPI, VCK and IUML apart from trade unions affiliated to them, farmers bodies and the film fraternity supported the shutdown.

However, both factions of AIADMK, BJP, MDMK, PMK and TMC (M) did not participate. A report from Madurai said the bandh passed off peacefully without any incident in the southern districts.

Police arrested several bandh supporters in various districts, including Ramanathapuram and Thanjavur.
Police said buses plied as usual in the region and normalcy was not affected anywhere. In many places, shops opened after 3 PM, they said.

A report from Puducherry said the bandh evoked near total response with the ruling Congress, an ally of DMK, supporting the shutdown.

All shops and establishments remained closed in the Union Territory, though government offices functioned with normal attendance, official sources told PTI.

Opposition AINRC, AIADMK and BJP distanced themselves from the bandh in the union territory.
Four buses of Tamilnadu State government owned Transport Corporation were damaged in Orleanpet and on the outskirts of Puducherry during the protest, police added.