Guwahati: Normal life was partially hit in Assam on Saturday following a 12-hour 'Assam bandh' called by the ULFA's Paresh Baruah faction, though it failed to affect Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's poll campaign in the state. The Prime Minister addressed two mammoth poll rallies at Dhakuakhana and Juria, where the bandh failed to keep back the public from attending the hustings even though the ULFA gave the bandh call to protest Singh's visit to the state,
People, including children, in both the places came out in large numbers. Assembly poll campaign meetings were held in different parts of the state with large attendance of people, they said. Normal life was hit in some parts of the Brahmaputra valley where private long-distance buses kept off the roads and markets remained closed to avoid any untoward incident, however, the bandh failed to affect life in the Barak valley and the two hill districts of the state.
Air and train services operated as usual, while the scheduled examinations of universities and colleges were held as per schedule, they said. In the capital city Guwahati shops and markets remained closed in the morning hours but reopened gradually as the day progressed during the bandh period, they said, adding private vehicles, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws were plying as
usual though private city bus service was thin.
Meanwhile, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa-led faction appealed the people to defy today's bandh as any shutdown called by the group has to have the approval of its chairman and more than two-third central leaders. A statement of the Rajkhowa faction appealed the people "to boycott the bandh call issued by someone who does not have any existence in the organisation. The people should show their stand against aimless killing and violence."
The bandh was called to protest the Prime Minister's visit as he had allegedly "failed to keep his written promise to discuss all the core issues for political solution of the Assam-India conflict."