Stray incidents of violence like stone-pelting at buses, private vehicles, burning tyres on roads to stop traffic and others marred an otherwise near-total Maharashtra Bandh, which disrupted normal life, here on Monday.
The voluntary shutdown call was issued by the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi allies — Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, CPI, CPM, trade unions, scores of farmers groups, students, women and other groups, barring the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and their constituents.
Considered an unprecedented move by a ruling alliance, the bandh is to protest against the Lakhimpur-Kheri massacre in Uttar Pradesh and express solidarity with the protesting farmers near Delhi and other parts of India.
While the city’s lifeline BEST services remained off-roads, inter-district State Transport buses were also hit, but the suburban trains functioned normally though with a reduced passenger load, and all other essential services were exempted from the shutdown.
The Maharashtra Police and all other security forces deployed huge bandobast to prevent any untoward incidents across the state, and Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil warned of action against those indulging in disruptive acts.
However, around half-dozen BEST buses were pelted with stones in different parts of Mumbai. There were road-blocks or tyres set ablaze to prevent some non-essential private vehicles from venturing out.
Top leaders like Sena’s Sanjay Raut, Kishore Tiwari, NCP’s Jayant Patil, Nawab Malik, Congress’ Nana Patole, Balasaheb Thorat, Bhai Jagtap and others at the state, region and district levels led the bandh by way of protests, demonstrations, processions, slogan-shouting against the BJP governments at the Centre and UP.
The shutdown elicited huge response from the rural centres with APMCs downing shutters, though in urban centres a few vehicles were seen on the roads as public transportation was largely paralysed.
In some areas, local shopkeepers complained that they were forced by the ruling parties’ activists to shut shops and join the bandh.
Last week, the state Cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had observed a two-minute silence in memory of the Lakhimpur-Kheri victims and later the ruling alliance announced the Maharashtra Bandh.
Fuel prices hold for a week despite firm global oil rates
Petrol and diesel prices remained unchanged for the seventh consecutive day on Thursday under the daily price revision mechanism followed by oil marketing companies, thus providing further relief to consumers.
The pump price of petrol in Delhi, which fell to Rs 103.97 a litre at 6 a.m. last week on Thursday from the previous day’s level of Rs 110.04 a litre, remained at the same level. The diesel prices also remained unchanged in the capital at Rs 86.67 a litre.
In the financial capital Mumbai, petrol continued to be priced at Rs 109.98 a litre and diesel Rs 94.14 a litre.
Prices also remained static on Wednesday in Kolkata where the price of petrol reduced by Rs 5.82 to Rs 104.67 per litre and that of diesel by Rs 11.77 to Rs 89.79 per litre last week.
Petrol price in Chennai also remained at Rs 101.40 per litre and diesel Rs 91.43 per litre.
Across the country as well, the price of fuel largely remained unchanged on Thursday but the retail rates varied depending on the level of local taxes.
After softening, the global crude prices have again touched a three-year high level of over $85 a barrel now. The rise in US inventory has pushed down crude prices a bit but OPEC+ decision on only gradual increase in production in December could push up crude prices further. This could put pressure on oil companies to revise fuel prices upwards again.
Before price cuts and pause, diesel prices have increased 30 out of the last 48 days taking up its retail price by Rs 9.90 per litre in Delhi.
Petrol prices have also risen on 28 of the previous 44 days taking up the pump price by Rs 8.85 per litre.
Since January 1, petrol and diesel prices have risen by more than Rs 26 a litre before the duty cuts.
The excise duty cut by the Centre last week was the first such exercise since the onset of Covid pandemic. In fact, the government had revised excise duty on petrol and diesel sharply in March and again in May last year to mobilise additional resources for Covid relief measures.
The excise duty was raised by Rs 13 and Rs 16 per litre on petrol and diesel between March 2020 and May 2020 and was standing high at Rs 31.8 on diesel and Rs 32.9 per litre on petrol before finally the centre decided on duty cut.
Former Himachal minister G.S Bali passes away at 67
Senior Congress leader and former Himachal Pradesh minister Gurmukh Singh Bali passed away on Saturday after a prolonged illness. He was 67.
The four-time legislator died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, his son Raghubir Singh Bali posted on his Facebook page.
Another FIR in Rajasthan for celebrating Pak win in T20 match
A couple of days after a school teacher was arrested and granted bail for celebrating Pakistan’s victory in a T20 World Cup match, an FIR has been lodged against a person of Banswara on similar charges.
He too had updated his status on social media congratulating Pakistan for its win in the T20 World Cup against India on October 24.
The FIR was registered on Thursday after one Amit Singh, resident of Kushalgarh, filed a written complaint against Armaan of the same area.
The complaint said that the ‘message was going viral since the morning of October 25, from an Instagram account arman.sk90 which has a status “Congratulations” Pakistan’.
The complainant alleged that another message was also going viral on social media which says ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its cover-Babar Azam’, adding that such messages were disturbing the national sentiments and national harmony too.
In Kushalgarh, the Rajasthan Police have registered a case in the matter and further investigations are on, said officials.
Two people have also been booked in Jodhpur for celebrating Pakistan’s victory in the same match.
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