Anti-price hike strikers paralyse India
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A 24-hour strike in protest against fuel price hikes caused transport chaos and violent clashes in India's biggest cities yesterday. Read more...
Image from "bennamias" on YouTube.
A 24-hour strike in protest against fuel price hikes caused transport chaos and violent clashes in India's biggest cities yesterday.
The country's main opposition party, Bharatiya Janata (BJP), joined forces with other left-wing parties to call for a strike after the government refused to repeal a 6.7% increase on the price of fuel announced ten days ago.
Large companies and schools shut their doors and taxi and lorry drivers went home after the initial chaos caused massive traffic jams across the country. Calcutta and Chennai airports were also paralysed, and intercity trains were disrupted throughout the day.
The government imposed the increase in order to reign in a growing fiscal deficit. But the move has already pushed inflation up from 10% to 11%.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has firmly ruled out rolling back the hike.
Demo in New Delhi. Video by our Observer, Richard Bennamias.
“The protesters say they don’t want to become like China”
Richard Bennamias is a French artist currently travelling in India. He gave us this account from New Delhi.
I went to listen to the opposition speaking at a rally near the Red Fort palace yesterday morning. They were very virulent. They didn't just talk about the price of petrol, but of other products too; essentials. It's the poor who are worst affected.
I heard a lot of people saying ‘we don't want a Western development model. We don't want to become like China'.
The demo was calm, except for when they burnt pictures of government members and people from the IMF and the World Bank.
From what I've seen over the past few weeks, I think the authorities are very worried about riots. Everything was shut down yesterday; only street vendors were allowed to work. There were police everywhere, and they were armed."
Down and out in India. Video by our Observer, Richard Bennamias.