PUDUCHERRY : The 12-hour dawn-to-dusk bandh called by various social and political organisations in the Union Territory demanding government take over of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram evoked strong response on Saturday.
However, stray incidents of violence triggered by the suicide of two of the Ashram sisters along with their mother continued for the third day with agitators targeting buses.
The Ashram was brought under heavy security net and large numbers of personnel were deployed at key locations to prevent any untoward incidents. Meanwhile, the wind shields of three buses were damaged when agitators pelted stones at them.
Around 400 volunteers of various outfits were detained for trying to enforce the bandh. Almost all shops and business establishments remained closed and apart from a few government buses, most of the vehicles, including autorickshaws, remained off the roads.
The buses of the Pondicherry Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) plied with police escort while Tamil Nadu state Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses towards the Union Territory were stopped at Gorimedu on the border. However, train services remained unaffected.
Many private schools and colleges declared holiday on Saturday, while government institutions functioned as usual, but with thin attendance.
The Grand Bazaar wore a deserted look as traders downed their shutters. Besides shops on all major thoroughfares, including Anna Salai, Jawaharlal Nehru Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kamarajar Salai, Mission Street, Lal Bahadur Sastri Street, Beach Road and S V Patel Salai remained closed.
Cinema theatres cancelled their matinee shows and even the restaurants and tea shops remained shut.
Tension prevailed when several Youth Congress volunteers on motorcycles attempted to enter the Legislative Assembly to stage an agitation. However, they were stopped at the entrance. The volunteers later staged a protest in front of the Assembly and courted arrest.
Around 200 activists of around 20 Tamil associations, led by G Sugumaran of Federation for People’s Rights, were taken into custody at the New Bus stand when they attempted to enforce the bandh by blocking buses.
At the Raja Theatre traffic junction, 61 activists of the CPM and CPI-ML, led by R Rajangam and S Balasubramanian respectively, were arrested for staging a road-roko.
At Nellithope junction, around 50 activists of VCK, led by Pavanan, were detained for blocking the road. At Head Post office, 25 activist of Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam were arrested. Around 35 volunteers of Students’ associations led by Saminathan were arrested when they attempted to block the Egmore-Puducherry train near the junction.