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Old 26th December 2011, 10:34   #1
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Default Driving through a hartal/bandh

Would like to narrate an incident that happened to me today. I hail from the capital of Kerala where hartals(riots) are quite commonplace. All Hartals have a procession with slogan calling and are often accompanied by violence against State transport vehicles and stone pelting against the Police. However, while declaring a hartal the political parties have the 'magnanimity' to exclude milk/newspaper/marriage/hospital vehicles from being harrased!

As a common man, you have two options - stay at home and enjoy the day or go to office with a risk of harm to self/vehicle. I work in the IT sector and hence it is near impossible to stay back home on a hartal day due to various reasons.

Now today, a political party had called for a hartal in Trivandrum. Since it was work as usual, I had to go to the office as well. I need to drive 20km to my office and hence started at around 8.00 am to reach office on
time. Roads were pretty deserted and I was beginning to enjoy my morning drive when suddenly I was stopped at a junction by three people.One person stood right in front of my car, with his hand on my car's bonnet while the others came over to the driver's side window. Then the Q&A session started.

Person1- Come out of the car
Me- What happened
Person1- Come out of the car
Me- Tell me what is the problem
Person1- Where are you going
Me(still in my car)- Going to my office, why what happened

Person1 started swearing at me for not supporting the hartal which was for 'the people's benefit' and that people like me should be taught a lesson which he knows how to teach. The other person joined him in chorus.In
the meantime the person leaning on my car's bonnet started leaning even more heavily with both his hands(which was really irritating me).
I listened to them patiently for sometime. They now wanted me to go back the way I came and said that they will not let me pass. I was nearly halfway through and it didnt make any sense to go back and take an alternate route. I told them so and said that they do not gain anything by stopping me here. I have no opposition or love for their ideology and am just a normal person. They did not listen to anything I said and while the guy on the bonnet stood there, the other two walked over to the (unfortunate)vehicle which had just arrived behind.
Bonnet guy now made elaborate gestures to 'help' me take a U-turn. I got into my car, switched on the right indicator. The bonnet guy was actually guiding me to take the turn . I moved my car a little to the right,
asked him if my car would hit a stone which was on the rightside corner. The ever helping dude came to the right side of my car to take a look at the stone and I took off to the left.
Never have I driven so fast in my life.
I could hear them shouting from behind me and I was half expecting a stone to land on my car anytime . But that didn't happen. Drove like a mental till my office(without any hinderance if I may add) and came to my senses only after I had parked the car in the parking lot.

The incident raised some questions in my mind.
1. What was my fault? Why was I subject to harrasment on a Monday morning for no fault of mine? Should I have remained home? There is an office convoy but they travel too far from the place I live. Yes I could have driven 10km extra and join the convoy to reach office in a snail's pace. Driving for 20km in the second gear does not sound like a good idea to me. Why? Why should I be inconvinenced for the clash of some parties?
Some people suggested that I should have taken my two-wheeler. Personally, I don't think it is a safer idea. Easier to fall or take blows to the body.
2. My foolhardiness might have saved me and my K10 now , but what if they had thrown stones ? Worse still ,what if they wait for me to come in the evening?
3. Hartal for the 'benefit of the people'? Oh for god's sake.
4. I had it easy. Thank heavens for that.Many people don't have it so easy and are victims of stone throwing and vandalism.

By the way the cream of the cake would be the reason for the hartal. Guess what?
"The government has not taken adequate steps to clean garbage from the garbage bins in town. Hence a hartal"
Don't believe me? Check out this link Garbage issue: BJP hartal in Kerala capital tomorrow, IBN Live News

Ofcourse ,spare a thought for my Alto K10 which saved my rear from the hartal by taking off like a rocket
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Old 26th December 2011, 11:19   #2
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Thank FSM for coming out unscathed from this close shave.

In Mumbai, the "bandh" typically starts around 9AM and is called off around 6PM. So reaching office BEFORE the hooligans take on the street is a good idea.

WFH (work from home) is a distinct possibility for folks in the IT industry, especially on such days.

Another thought - There is no reason to tell the truth to these hooligans. Just tell them that you are going to the hospital or something.

Finally, I do agree that bandhs and hartals are a huge waste of national productivity. The law should ban these bandhs and take the hooigans to task.

Edit: Just clicked that you might have (unintentionally) made the situation worse for the car that stopped behind you. With you escaping, the hooligans might have taken out the wrath on the next vehicle and who knows that person might be in a genuine emergency.

Last edited by SDP : 26th December 2011 at 11:35.
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Old 26th December 2011, 11:22   #3
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

1. It is just a job.

2. It's not worth risking your life. It's just a job.

3. If you're at work now, take the convoy back.

4. You could have caused hurt or injury if one of the protesters was alarmed and inadvertently jumped in the way.

5. Someone in that gang may know you, or know your car, or carry enough of a grudge to figure it out. It may not be over just yet.
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Old 26th December 2011, 11:27   #4
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

The whole thing is just astonishing.

These guys are just trained to mechanically enforce bandhs and "teach" violators a lesson by their respective parties. They do not, cannot and will not "think" whether it's justified.

So, yes; you should have just stayed home. You just cannot reason with them saying you are a common man etc.

I remember there was a bandh in B'lore around the same time now 2 years ago when some leading actor had passed away. You know why there was a bandh? Apparently, the "people of B'lore" were so grief stricken that everyone flocked to the actor's residence and when the cops tried maintaining order, the people got annoyed that the cops weren't allowing them to pay their last respects and promptly resorted to vandalism. The chap who'd just passed away must be rolling in his grave!

It's best you either go in a convoy or work from home. Trying to be go about a good citizen and not letting these things affect your work is simply not worth the risk.

Worst part is - if you are indeed attacked, no one's gonna back you up. The party has enforced a bandh so in their eyes you are violating their order. And the cops wouldn't care because there was a bandh and you didn't adhere to it!

Sit and home and enjoy!
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Old 26th December 2011, 11:34   #5
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanjeevskartha View Post
hartals(riots) are quite commonplace. All Hartals have a procession with slogan calling and are often accompanied by violence against State transport vehicles and stone pelting against the Police.
Hartals are not riots but rather bandh where political parties (often the opposition) force closure roads, transport and business to gain political mileage. Now damage of govt. property is coming down because of strict fines imposed on the agitators by court as compensation for damage. Hence most parties have asked their people to refrain from damaging govt. property.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sanjeevskartha View Post
Drove like a mental till my office(without any hinderance if I may add) and came to my senses only after I had parked the car in the parking lot.

Was it worth it? How would you have reacted to a panic situation in such a frame of mind? Always keep the safety of yours as well as others in mind while driving. Try to calm nerves sooner.

And yes, am looking forward to the day when people rise against this hartal culture. It is a great shame and hinders the progress of our country.

I had such a hard time explaining to a foreigner why law enforcement is a mute spectator during these hartals.
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:11   #6
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Edit: Just clicked that you might have (unintentionally) made the situation worse for the car that stopped behind you. With you escaping, the hooligans might have taken out the wrath on the next vehicle and who knows that person might be in a genuine emergency.
Yes, I realize that and feel bad. What I did was absolutely impulsive. Hope they were let off without any issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cranky View Post
3. If you're at work now, take the convoy back.

4. You could have caused hurt or injury if one of the protesters was alarmed and inadvertently jumped in the way.

5. Someone in that gang may know you, or know your car, or carry enough of a grudge to figure it out. It may not be over just yet.
3. Yes , planning to do that in the evening
4. Probable. He was on the right side and I had quite some space in the left side.So I might not have hit him. Anyway in hindsight , I feel it was not worth the risk
5. Well, that is a risk I have to live with. Maybe I will take my two wheeler for a week or so. Honestly though, I don't think they will go to so much lengths to find out where I live and then take revenge. Hope the whole thing gets forgotten soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by revintup View Post
Was it worth it? How would you have reacted to a panic situation in such a frame of mind? Always keep the safety of yours as well as others in mind while driving. Try to calm nerves sooner.
Like I said, I don't think it was worth it. Yes, I should learn to calm nerves faster. That said, in a normal state of mind, safety is my first priority.
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:11   #7
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Quote:
Originally Posted by cranky View Post
1. It is just a job.

2. It's not worth risking your life. It's just a job.

3. If you're at work now, take the convoy back.

4. You could have caused hurt or injury if one of the protesters was alarmed and inadvertently jumped in the way.

5. Someone in that gang may know you, or know your car, or carry enough of a grudge to figure it out. It may not be over just yet.
Very true! This thread reminded me of an incident that, today I recollect as one of the scariest days of my life.
It was way back in 1999 (If I remember right). There was an issue between Karnataka and Tamilnadu regarding the Cauvery water supply.
A bandh was called and vehicles from Tamilnadu were not allowed to enter the Karnataka border and vice versa.
I needed to get to Bangalore from Ooty (My hometown) the same day as i had to join a company as an intern the next day.
Young as I was (18 at that time an adventorous youth) iI found a simple solution. I borrowed a pair of spare Goa (GA) number plates from a good friend who works for a Motorcycle touring company, secured the plates on my Yam RD 350 which had original Tamil Nadu (TN) with insulation tape and confidently entered the Karnataka border (Bhandipur).
Note that the cops were stopping only TN vehicles so I had no problem getting across the border.
The moment i got across the border, i stopped at a distance and removed the GA plates and put them in my bag (They were taped with insulation so didnt want them to fall off on the way).
My ride till Mysore was uneventful (Thought the deserted roads gave me an eerie feel).
Then as i was entering mandia, i saw burning tyres and a couple of smashed up busses. Thats when i started to regret my decession
Man it was a scary sight!!!
The worst was yet to come, a kilometer further and there was a mob blocking the road! They had stopped a line of vehicles of which some had their windows smashed. I was the only biker in sight.
The life saver (You'll know why by the end of this post) my brother who was 13 yrs old at that time was riding pillion with me.
Eventually we were stopped by those people. One person saw my TN number plates and started abusing me. He told me to get off the bike and started to scuff me on my shoulders.
Luckly on elderly gentleman (A true gentelman considering the situation) spotted my younger brother with tears in his eyes.
He somehow convinced the others to let us go because we were just INNOCENT KIDS. And thank god they listened and we continued our journey to Bangalore!
I wonder what would have happened to me if my kid bro was not along with me.
THANK YOU ONE AGAIN BRO
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:27   #8
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

@Sanjeev, glad you made it to office safe and sound.

The party workers are just hired goons, who are enforcing the stupid decisions of their party leaders. The real culprits should be bought to book, and these damn bandhs/strikes/rasta roko's should be made illegal. But hey, won't be India then.

Damn our politicians, who only care for themselves and have forgotten their duty to the public.
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:33   #9
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@aadithsince1980: Dude, are you sure it was a good idea to take your brother along in such a situation? Things could just as easily have taken a turn for the worse and your brother would have been caught helpless had you been injured in that mess.

As someone else on the forum has already said - it's only a job - not worth risking your life and limb!
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:39   #10
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Quote:
Originally Posted by singhsid View Post
@aadithsince1980: Dude, are you sure it was a good idea to take your brother along in such a situation? Things could just as easily have taken a turn for the worse and your brother would have been caught helpless had you been injured in that mess.

As someone else on the forum has already said - it's only a job - not worth risking your life and limb!
Yeah, I agree I was really foolish to take the risk in the first place and to top it, take my kid bro along! I require a for it. But like I mentioned in my post, i was just 18 with all the adranelin pumping in my veins I sure will never repeat the mistake though!
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:57   #11
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

It's foollish , while you have escaped from the first set of people there will be another group. with mobile phones now a days they could have easily passed the message.
Since the political party was not too strong you might have escaped.
During hartals I commute by bike. I was never stopped even on the multiparty hartals.

Any injury caused by hartals or bandhs will not be covered under insurance AFAIK.
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Old 26th December 2011, 15:20   #12
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanjeevskartha View Post
Would like to narrate an incident that happened to me today.
Good to hear that you are safe Sanjeev. These people only know how to disrupt normal peoples life. On the other hand, Kerala is famous for Bandhs which turns into vandalism.

Had I been you, would not have ventured out in my own car. Although we have seen a lot of bandh's in hyderabad due to Telangana, they are pretty much concentrated in one are of the university.

Stay safe buddy.

Last edited by bblost : 26th December 2011 at 15:56. Reason: Please do not quote a complete large post. Thanks
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Old 26th December 2011, 15:53   #13
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Thank god you came out without a scratch. It sure is reason enough to get one's blood boiling especially for no fault of yours. Add to that, the nonsensical logic of troubling the citizens furthermore when the intent of the hartal itself is countered by the act. Shame upon these miscreants.

I wish there were accessories available after-market wherein one could install an air-gun outside of your car and trigger it from within.
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Old 26th December 2011, 16:10   #14
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Sanjeev,

As you may be aware, hartals/bandhs in kerala is as common as the sun-rise, especially in Trivandrum. They start at 6am in the morning and end at 6pm the same day. So stick around in office till after 6pm.

Drive in a convoy thereafter and try not to pull such stunts again. You never know when you get stuck in the hands of such goons.

Drive safe.

Cheers.
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Old 26th December 2011, 17:48   #15
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Default re: Driving through a hartal/bandh

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanjeevskartha View Post
....I was stopped at a junction by three people..
Which junction was this? I had to catch an 8 AM flight from International and I reached Airport by 5.30 itself, thankfully things were normal at that point.

I had an ordeal 5-6 years back where people rushed to my car with talwar ( read vadivaal) and all, after that I stopped messing with hartal ( bandh those days) in Kerala.
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