Mumbai, suburbs peaceful, financial sector crippled

Mumbai, Feb 20 (IANS) Barring stray incidents of stone-pelting and attempts to stop buses and trains, the impact of nationwide shutdown Wednesday on Mumbai and its suburbs remained restricted to the financial sector.

Minor stone-pelting incidents took place in Bhandup and Kalwa in Mumbai. However, the situation was brought under control immediately, police said.

According to traffic police and railway officials, attempts were made to halt buses in Mumbai and trains in the western suburbs, but most of these efforts were unsuccessful due to police presence.

"There has been no effect of the Bharat Bandh on the Western Railway suburban services. All services are running normally so far. We do not expect any issues," a Western Railway official said here.

However, financial sector of Mumbai -- the country's commercial capital -- was crippled as all banks, insurance companies and commercial institutions remained shut, organisers said.

"The banking and financial sector is 100 percent closed not only in Mumbai and Maharashtra, but all over the country," All India Bank Employees Association vice-president Vishwas Utagi told IANS.

The all-India shutdown call is in support of various demands by the unions, including concrete measures to counter inflation, steps for employment generation, job security, universal social security, and hiking the minimum wage to Rs.10,000 per month along with daily allowance.

Other services and establishments functioned normally in the city. Suburban trains, buses, taxis and private vehicles were seen plying in Mumbai as usual.

However, fewer people were commuting to some of the industrial hubs in and around Mumbai such as Andheri, Vasai, Palghar, Dahanu and Panvel as all workers' unions supported the shutdown.

The Shiv Sena and its affiliated organisations too are supporting the strike.

However, party president Uddhav Thackeray assured people that the shutdown would not affect students appearing for Higher Secondary School Certificate Examinations from Thursday.

All civic emergency and essential services remained on alert to combat any situation.