Monday, July 5th, 2010
Bharat Bandh called by all opposition parties over fuel price hike. The bandh could be called a success. It certainly disrupted my life a bit. I did not go to work. First time since my days in Assam has any bandh had any effect on my life. Last time it was in February, 2006. ULFA had called an Assam bandh and my flight from Kolkata to Dibrugarh via Guwahati was halted in Guwahati itself. Alternative arrangements were made to reach Duliajan next morning by road. But that is another story for some other day.
Coming back to the Bharat Bandh. I wasn't sure whether I should step out of house or not. So I did a quick SMS survey of a few friends and colleagues asking them about their plans. The responses were as usual mixed.
"In two minds, not sure, wait and watch".
"Not going, not that brave"
Some called to say they would be going.
And finally came the answer "Just reached office".
Now reading this range of response I decided to look out. The traffic was much less. I could see a bunch of policemen also. Public buses plying on the roads. Though they were fewer in number (so it seemed to me) and there were certainly less people in them. I almost made up my mind to go. But at that moment also decided to switch on the TV. Switched on to the news. All I saw was a local train being stopped, buses being pelted with stones. Our round the clock news channels were certainly making all eefforts to motivate people to stay at home by showing repeated clips of violence at public transport and the deserted roads in Mumbai. And so the mind was made up. No way I was going to go out now.
And I also wondered "By not going to work, was I a participant in the protest movement, and supporting the people who called the bandh, or had I simply taken a personal safety decision?". This question I put on Facebook and Twitter. There were a couple of interesting replies.
"Neither... you are simply bunking"
"You are not wrong"
I am not sure what, if anything, was gained out of this bandh. Seemed to me a massive exercise in futility. Nothing really happened. With no elections in the horizon, the government can simply ignore such activities. Many people took it as an extended weekend. Loss to the exchequer must have been huge though. I used up a leave.
And for the people enforcing the bandh, it must have been a really LONG day at work.