Nagaland, Mizoram defy bandh

12-hour strike total and peaceful in rest of the northeastern states

Sept. 21 : Mizoram and Nagaland stood out on a day when rest of the northeastern states came to a halt during the countrywide strike today.

The bandh was called by the BJP to protest against the Centre’s move to allow FDI in retail, cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to six a year and hike in the price of diesel.

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura were worst affected with business establishments and educational institutions closing down and public transport remaining off the road. While government offices functioned with less than normal attendance, private offices remained closed.

In Assam, the response to the strike was near total.

“The attendance at the secretariat is about 60-65 per cent,” an official at Dispur said. The state government had yesterday issued a diktat asking all employees to attend duty.

Guwahati was all but completely shut down barring the movement of private vehicles.

In Tripura, the 12-hour strike called by Left parties was total and peaceful.

State Congress president Sudip Roy Barman had proclaimed the party’s opposition to the strike but no Congress worker or supporter turned up. Nepal Chandra Das, deputy inspector-general (operations), said railway services had totally collapsed as no train plied to and from Agartala while only two flights landed at Agartala airport and six were cancelled.

On the other hand, there was very little effect of the strike in Mizoram and Nagaland. According to officials in Mizoram, there was no impact of the strike. “The BJP has a negligible presence in the state and more importantly, national issues do not raise much of a concern here,” an official said.

While BJP has some presence in Nagaland, it was not enough for people to respond to the strike.

In Imphal, leaders of eight political parties took to the streets shouting slogans and forcing shops to down shutters.

Leaders of Forward Block, CPI, CPM, JD (S), JD (U), Manipur Peoples Party, National Peoples Party and Revolutionary Socialist Party took part in the march, led by Moiran-gthem Nara Singh, secretary of CPI Manipur unit.

Police, however, cut short the rally by turning the marchers back to the CPI office, from where the march began around 7am.

Educational institutions and banks remained closed while transport services were suspended. However, private vehicles could be seen plying on the streets. There was no report of any violence.

In Meghalaya, people woke up to almost deserted streets today. It was also a rare occasion where the public showed support to the strike call.

Unlike in recent years, when all-India general strikes had no impact, this time the shutdown call evoked a massive response from the people.

Most of the schools, colleges, financial institutions and business establishments were affected by the strike, while attendance in government offices was negligible. While state-run buses and private cars were seen criss-crossing the streets, other commercial vehicles were absent from the roads.

“The strike was an immense success. The message has gone out to the Congress government that the people cannot tolerate inflation, price rise and anti-people policies,” Nalin Kohli, member of BJP national executive committee, said at a news conference.

“The Congress is a fountainhead of scams and scandals and corruption is in its DNA,” he added.

The police detained around 27 BJP activists, including state general secretary Dipayan Chakraborty, when they allegedly tried to prevent vehicles from plying on the streets. The activists were detained from the Khyndailad area but were later released.