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New Delhi: With autos and taxis off the roads and metro trains and buses packed to capacity, commuters in Delhi had a harrowing time as the two-day nationwide strike called by various trade unions began.
"We will be on strike as we are fed up with the government's indifferent attitude towards us," Suresh Sharma, president of the Rashtravadi Janta Tipahiya Chalak Mahasangh, told IANS.

Sharma, who represents a section of autorickshaw drivers, said despite rising CNG prices, the government had not revised auto fares. Besides, the enforcement department of the government harasses the driver unnecessarily all the time.

"We know that the strike will spell trouble for a lot of people but we appeal to them to understand our pain too," he added.

Central trade unions have called for two-day mega strike as their talks with the government failed to reach a conclusion.

The unions have demanded concrete measures for containing inflation, steps for employment generation, universal social security, and making the minimum wage to 10,000 per month along with daily allowance.

The two-day nationwide strike-call by 11 central trade unions to press for a ten-point charter of demands evoked partial response in West Bengal.

Flight services were normal, trains plied despite minor disruptions, but buses, taxis and auto rickshaws largely kept off the roads. Many people stayed indoor in the capital city and the districts.

Banking services have been crippled, but municipal markets remained open, while shops remained shut in many areas.

Sources at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport said all flights operated as per schedule, and that there were no cancellations.

An Air India spokesman said: "The passenger load is more or less as per booking. May be, in some sectors there is a marginal drop".

Attendance was normal in state government offices, particularly the state secretariat Writers' Buildings, with many employees staying overnight at their offices in anticipation of trouble getting in to work.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government has declared it will not allow strikes in the state, as it caused heavy financial and economic losses.

The two-day nationwide strike has evoked total response in Kerala, as shops and other establishments in the state downed their shutters and majority of the people preferred to remain indoors.

The trade unions have called the strike to protest against price-rise and "violation" of labour laws.

The two-day shutdown began on a mixed note across Karnataka amid tight security and heavy deployment of police personnel to maintain law and order.

In India's tech hub, software majors like Infosys and Wipro worked normally, though Infosys declared a holiday at its development centre in Mysore, 150 km from Bangalore, as employees would have trouble commuting.

State-run behemoths like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), Indian Telephones Industries (ITI) and Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd (HMT) shut down, with their unions responding to the call and staging demonstrations and rallies in support of their demands. Though three-wheeler auto-rickshaws remained off-roads in several areas across this city, skeletal state-run and private bus services affected public transportation, causing hardship to commuters, especially those at railway stations and inter-state bus terminals.

"The situation is under control so far as no untoward incident was reported from across the city, barring stray incidents of forcible closure of petty shops, eateries and general stores by left-wing students going around the city on motor bikes to enforce the shutdown," a senior police official told IANS.

With schools and colleges closed as a pre-cautionary measure and attendance in government and private offices less than usual, vehicular movement remained hassle-free on a working day in the absence of public transport and buses.

Barring private vehicles, the public transport in the state remained off roads.

"So far, everything appears to be quiet. It appears that people are in a holiday mood. We are ready to provide police help if the state road transport corporation asks for it to run their services," Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told reporters at the state secretariat before the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

State Agricultural Minister K.P. Mohanan expressed solidarity with the striking workers.

"The price rise is unbearable. There has to be a way out," said Mohanan. Unlike other ministers who were escorted in their vehicles by police personnel, Mohanan arrived on foot to attend the cabinet meeting.

Police have made elaborate arrangements at major railways stations and other places to ensure that no untoward incident takes place during the strike.

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