ITANAGAR, Sep 10: The 10-hour Bharat bandh declared by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and imposed by the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) in the state received the support of the masses in the capital as markets remained closed and vehicles remained off the roads on Monday.
That a bandh call announced by a political party was successful in the state was quite unusual.
Enforcing the bandh in the state, the APCC and the Arunachal Pradesh Youth Congress (APYC) created blockades across the capital complex area and burnt piles of tyres in the wee hours.
Personnel from the police and fire departments arrived later to douse the flames, and removed the blockades.
Noting that a few protesters attempted to take the law in their hands by indulging in arson and pelting stones at vehicles, the police arrested 18 people across the capital complex and placed 66 under preventive detention.
Those detained were later released on PR bond.
Two cases of rioting were registered in the Itanagar and Naharlagun police stations.
In Likabali, seven people were detained under preventive Section 107/151 CrPC.
Speaking to reporters, APYC president Geli Ete said the increase in fuel prices would consequently lead to increase in the prices of other essential commodities, and that the public needs to protest such arbitrary price hikes in the country.
Ete demanded that the government of India reduce the prices immediately.
Leading the bandh in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh Mahila Morcha Committee president Nabam Yakum said, “This isn’t only about party differences. We as women understand how the slightest increase in prices of commodities affects our households. How will economically weaker women and families cope with the prices?”
While the markets were closed, some local women vendors in Ganga market – unaware of the bandh – were seen selling their produces.
“We learnt of the bandh only after we arrived in the market,” one of the women said.
On being informed of the reasons, she said, “If we had known that it was for the increasing prices of fuel and gas cylinders we would have supported it. We can’t afford to keep paying high prices for cooking when we hardly get enough to eat.
“However, half of the day is gone and our vegetables will rot if we don’t sell it by today,” she said.
Educational institutions and banks also remained closed, while attendance in government offices was negligible.
Petrol depots under the North East Petrol Mazdoor Union supported the Bharat bandh and kept their gates closed till 3 pm.
However, the bandh also brought its share of inconvenience to some. Reportedly, the scheduled examination of the state nursing school had to be postponed to Tuesday. Around 15 to 20 buses and trucks were stranded at Chimpu as bandh callers reportedly stopped them from moving further into the town early morning.
At the interstate bus terminus (ISBT) in Lekhi village, buses from Shillong (Meghalaya), Dimapur (Nagaland) and Guwahati (Assam) arrived at around 3 am and dropped off the passengers en route.
However, the bus from Tezu arrived late, and several travellers, which included school children and the elderly, were stranded at the ISBT without food or water as the shopkeepers at the ISBT had also not opened up.
The markets started opening at around 3.30 pm.
Meanwhile, Mahila Congress Committee filed a complaint against Superintendent of Police M Harsha Vardhan for allegedly using derogatory words.
The APYC has also sought an apology from the SP, alleging that he misbehaved with the APYC president.
“We demand an apology from him for such undemocratic behaviour,” said APYC spokesman Arjun Panye.
However, the SP refuted the allegations and said, “I am merely doing my job in whatever way I can, so that there is no lawlessness in Itanagar. We have shown restraint. Mild altercations will occur in such situations; blowing them out of proportion is not healthy.”
Reports indicate that the bandh was ineffective in Pasighat, Namsai and Roing as people continued with their daily activities as usual. However, banks in Pasighat remained closed. All schools, offices and the market remained open in Roing.