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INDIA

Stray incidents of violence mar Mumbai bandh

Wednesday 30 July 2003

MUMBAI: Stray incidents of stone pelting and ’rail roko’ agitation in the suburbs marred the Shiv Sena-BJP sponsored Mumbai bandh on Wednesday, called to pay homage to the victims of Ghatkopar bus blast and to protest state government’s failure to control law and order.

"We have received reports of stone pelting from several places including Girgaum, Parel, Santacruz, Vakola, Worli and Chembur areas of the city and Koparkhairne and Vashi in Navi Mumbai," Joint Commissioner of Police Ahmad Javed said.

"Efforts were also made to stop buses in some parts of the city," he said. Reports of rail roko from Mulund and Borivali have also come in, the Joint Commissioner added.

According to spokespersons of the state-run BEST undertaking, Western Railway and Central Railway, services began normally in the morning at 4 a.m. and continued until around 9 a.m. when they came under attack.

Most buses were fitted with wire meshes to protest their glass windows while trains were provided with police escorts.

BEST, which is not observing a bandh, is plying 621 out of the scheduled 1916 buses. Having a strong Sena workers’ union, of the 2611 drivers, 1281 reported on duty and of the 3029 conductors, 1461 were doing duty.

Shiv Sainiks descended on the streets in large numbers and began stoning vehicles. Police said BEST drivers were pulled out of vehicles and beaten up. A large number of protestors were arrested in different places, police said.

Shiv Sainiks and BJP activists staged a rail-roko at suburban Borivali near platform number two and stopped a Churchgate-bound local train. Another rail-roko agitation was reported from Mulund railway station where Shiv Sainiks led by party leader Shishir Shinde blocked the movement of trains.

However, Bangalore-bound Udyan Express was allowed to proceed. At Mulund, Shiv Sainiks raised slogans and expressed their anguish against the terrorist strikes.

In the morning, Sena activists were spotted patrolling the roads, stopping cars and asking people to stay indoors. They disrupted train services in the morning by squatting on the railway tracks at Borivli, Malad, Andheri, Dadar and Mulund.

Work at business establishments standstill

The business district here wore a deserted look with thin presence of employees at banks, financial institutions and corporate offices in view the bandh.

Some of the bank branches were open but had thin attendance.

The Reserve Bank of India spokesperson said the clearing house is open but the impact of bandh on banking operations would be known only in the later part of the day.

The spokespersons of both the stock exchanges, BSE and NSE, said the trading operations have commenced on a normal note.

The broking houses with offices in South Mumbai had limited employee attendance. Due to electronic and telephone based transactions, the bandh may have only marginal impact on share trading, a dealer with a share-broking firm said.

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