GUWAHATI, Sept 10 - The Bharat Bandh called today by opposition Congress to protest against the BJP-led NDA regime�s alleged failure to control skyrocketing fuel prices hit normal life in the State.
Road and rail traffic were affected after Congress workers staged protests at various places and tried to prevent movement of trains and vehicles by blocking railway tracks and burning tyres on the roads. Many long-distance buses did not operate.
As many as nine Mail, Express and Passenger trains were delayed by 20 to 80 minutes due to picketers obstructing tracks at various stations in the Lumding and Tinsukia divisions of NF Railway.
Picketers resorted to blockade of railway tracks at Silchar, between Kalkalighat and Baraigram, between Moranhat and Sivasagar, at Digboi, and between Nakachari and Mariani. However, these blockades were lifted later and train services resumed.
Scuffles between Congress workers and police were reported from various places. Many protesters were detained by the police at various places across Assam while trying to impose the bandh.
Senior Congress leaders including State unit president Ripun Bora and All India Congress Committee general secretary Harish Rawat were arrested in Guwahati, while former minister Rakibul Hussain was detained at Nagaon.
Some other senior Congress leaders were also arrested at different places.
In some places, scuffles broke out between workers of the Congress and the BJP.
The party had called for a Bharat Bandh from 9 am to 3 pm. However, in Assam, the bandh call was from 5 am to 5 pm.
In Guwahati, the bandh affected life with most shops and commercial establishments remaining closed during the period, while attendance in many offices was thin.
However, schools and educational institutions had been kept out of the purview of the bandh by the Congress. Yet, some parents chose to keep their wards indoors fearing untoward incidents on the roads.
Traffic on the major thoroughfares of the city was moderate. Private city buses remained off the roads during the morning and early afternoon hours, even though ASTC city buses operated.
School, college students and officer-goers using public transport faced difficulty due to non-availability of transport facilities. Long queues were witnessed at bus stops.
Congress workers took out a protest rally from the Manabendra Sarma complex to the Secretariat gate this morning. However, they were prevented by the police and security forces from entering the Secretariat.
The police put up barricades outside the Secretariat. There was a scuffle between the Congress workers and the police when the former tried to breach the barricades.
The protesters were taken into preventive custody for violating Section 144 of CrPC and for not giving prior information to the authorities about their protest rally.
Among those taken into custody were Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora and All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge for Assam and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. They were taken to the Basistha police station but released later.