Bharat Bandh: Amid low-key strike, it's business as usual in Mumbai

Updated: Jan 09, 2020, 08:37 IST | A correspondent | Mumbai

Hospitals scale down operations, students call for 'Occupy Mumbai University' and teachers sport black ribbons as city witnesses a peaceful Wednesday.

Some shops remained shuttered on Wednesday. Pic/Suresh Karker
Some shops remained shuttered on Wednesday. Pic/Suresh Karker

Bharat Bandh in Mumbai was a low-key affair with transport, schools and colleges, and most shops being unaffected on Wednesday. However, government employees from various sectors actively participated, affecting state and central institutions such as banks and hospitals.

The strike was called against the government's anti-people and anti-labour policies, privatisation of various public agencies, including the railways; corporatisation of 49 defence production units, among other things.

Operations postponed
The strike affected four state-run hospitals in the city as Class III and IV workers were on strike. All elective surgeries were postponed and medical students stepped in to assist. Apart from nurses, technicians, clerks, ward boys and cleaners being on strike affected patient care. Pallavi Prabhakar Saple, Dean of J J Hospital, said, "We roped in daily contract workers, undergraduate students and paramedical students in all four hospitals. Around 10 emergent surgeries, including caesarian operations, were performed."

The Students' Action Front called for Occupy Mumbai University against the attacks on JNU students. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The Students' Action Front called for Occupy Mumbai University against the attacks on JNU students. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

On average, 80 surgeries are performed at J J Hospital every day. With technicians being on strike, even X-ray machines were not working.

A staff member, Kishore Shelar, said that over 5,000 employees from the hospital were striking.

"We felt bad that patients were inconvenienced but we had to stand by the union to fight for our rights since the government has repeatedly turned a blind eye to our problems," he said. Workers will report to work as usual on Thursday.

Transport unaffected
Ten central trade unions and the Shiv Sena-affiliated Bhartiya Kamgar Sena had participated in the strike. Trade unionists gathered at Azad Maidan for a demonstration and railway unions from Central Railway and Western Railway assembled outside platform no. 18 of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

BEST services too remained unaffected. They were fixed with metal grills as a safety precaution. The Mumbai Metro, monorail and private cabs also functioned as usual.

Lectures as usual
Some unions from Mumbai University and other affiliated colleges supported the strike with signature campaigns and by sporting black ribbons. Scheduled examinations and lectures were conducted without hurdles. In some schools, teachers and non-teaching staff too showed their support through the black ribbons.

Madhu Paranjpe, secretary of the Bombay University and College Teachers Union (BUCTU), said, "The call to wear black ribbons got a huge response from colleges across Maharashtra. In Mumbai, we also took students along to protest the violence that took place in JNU."

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