PUDUCHERRY: The bandh, called by the AIADMK local unit of Puducherry seeking the release of the party general secretary J Jayalalithaa from Bengalore jail, evoked near-total response here on Saturday. The bandh passed off peacefully and over 250 activists, including five MLAs, courted arrest by staging road blockades at different places.
Police pickets were posted at the junctions and different areas of the region to thwart the mischief-makers during the dawn-to-dusk bandh, which affected movement of the tourists and the public.
The bandh affected normal life with shops and markets remaining closed and vehicles off roads.
Police arrested nearly 76 activists, led by AIADMK local unit wing secretary and MLA P Purushothaman, for staging a road blockade near the new bus-stand. Another group, led by four MLAs A Anbazhagan, Om Shakthi Sekar, L Periasamy and Baskar, blocked Anna Salai and courted arrest.
Though some of the shops and eateries were open early in the morning, the shop owners decided to close them down, fearing violence.
Almost all shops and markets remained shut on Nehru Street, Anna Salai, Mission Street and the usually-busy shopping areas were deserted. The markets at Nellithope and Periyakadai did not function. Most of the petrol bunks did not operate and cinema theatres suspended the morning and matinee shows. Even most of the liquor shops were closed. According to residents, the shops on the outskirts such as Bahour, Villianur, Kirumampakkam too downed shutters.
Vehicular traffic was reduced with only tourists, private vehicles, two-wheelers and government-owned vehicles plying. The private buses, Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) and Puducherry Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) buses did not operate. The bus-stand wore a deserted look with only police vehicles being stationed in it.
According to police, one Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation bus was damaged by an unknown group near Marapalam, Mudaliarpet, as early as 5.30 am.
A few autorickshaws operated and tried to make most of the situation by fleecing the tourists and commuters, while share-autos did not ply.
TOURISTS IN TROUBLE
The tourists, who thronged the important spots in Puducherry in large numbers because of the long holiday, had a tough time finding vehicles for transport. Roshan, one of the IT employees from Bangalore, told Express that though he and his family reached the Union Territory by their own vehicle, they were hesitant to take it out, fearing violence.
Most of the tourists visited Aurobindo Ashram, Manakula Vinayagar temple and the beach by foot.
The tourists also complained about the closure of eateries and the roadside shops as they couldn’t get water bottles.