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Strike a political gimmick, say harrowed passengers

New Delhi, July 5 (Calcutta Tube) For thousands of people stranded due to disruption of rail and road traffic, the shutdown called by the opposition Monday to protest the hike in fuel prices and high inflation was nothing but a political gimmick.

‘My husband is admitted to a hospital and I cannot visit him till after 6 p.m. This is cruel,’ said S. Kamalamma, a homemaker from Mangalore.

‘No shutdown should ever affect transport and essential services. Prices should be brought down but these shutdowns will not have any impact on government. Every government, whichever party forms it, has some reason or the other to increase the fuel prices,’ she said.

The rail and air traffic was worst affected in the eastern part of the country as 73 trains were cancelled and 192 disrupted following the shutdown.

‘I have seen many bandhs in my life. Most of them don’t fulfill the purpose for which they are called. Still our political parties call bandhs,’ said Mriganka Guha, a retired government employee from Kolkata.

Many rail passengers, who reached the national capital from different parts of the country, had to wait for hours to find an auto rickshaw or a taxi to reach their final destination.

‘I reached New Delhi railway station at 11 a.m. and there were no autos and the man at the pre-paid counter said that I have to wait for at least an hour to get an auto,’ said Aavni Arora, a college student.

With flights cancelled, trains disrupted, trucks and buses off the roads and shops and educational establishments closed — life was on hold in many parts of the country Monday.

‘This is the second shutdown in less than 10 days in Kerala for the very same reason. The price of fuel is not going to come down by such things, then why put the common man in trouble. This practice by political parties has to end,’ said Arun Menon, an IT professional from Kochi.

Krishna Venkatappa, a software engineer from Bangalore, said: ‘The worst thing is even tea and snack shops on roads sides are shut.’

‘We are waiting for evening to eat something,’ lamented the 32-year-old living as paying guest in the city.

The worst affected were the daily wage earners, rickshaw pullers and auto drivers.

‘Ultimately, we are suffering from the bandh. People like us who drive autos can’t afford such losses due to bandhs. We are not interested in politics,’ said Kishore Choudhury, an auto driver from Delhi.

But there were some who felt that the strike was necessary as there was no other option left.

‘I had opened my hosiery shop in the morning. But a few hours later, I had to down the shutters after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers reached here to enforce the strike. People are mostly voluntarily participating in the strike to oppose the fuel price hike because it has hit the common people the most,’ opined Rakesh Kumar, a shop owner in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

‘It’s an unprecedented shutdown. Though I lost some Rs.150 today (Monday) that I earn daily but the strike was necessary to show our anger as the central government does not understand the common man’s problems,’ said Ram Singh, a rickshaw puller from Bihar.

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