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Bandh (Devanagari: बंध) (literally: shutting down) is a form of protest used by political activists in South Asian countries such as India and Nepal. It is similar to a general strike. During a bandh, a political party or a community declare a general strike. For example, a Bharat bandh is a call for a bandh across India, and a bandh can also be called for an individual state or municipality.
The community or political party declaring a bandh expects the general public to stay at home and not report for work. Shopkeepers are expected to keep their shops closed, and public transport operators of buses and cabs are expected to stay off the road and not carry passengers. There have been instances when large metropolitan cities have been brought to a standstill.
The Supreme Court of India ruled against any sort of hooliganism in the name of 'bandh' in 1998, but political parties still organize them. In 2004, the Supreme Court of India fined two political parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, for organizing a bandh in Mumbai as a protest against bomb blasts in the city. The government of West Bengal also banned bandh often conducted by the communist party of India.  Supreme Court permits only voluntary closure of establishments during Bandhs.
Bandh was a common phenomenon by political parties in many states where they are in opposition. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and 13 non-UPA parties called for a nationwide bandh on 5 July 2010, to protest a fuel price hike. This bandh prevented Indians from carrying out day-to-day tasks, especially in states that were ruled by the NDA and the left. In Nepal, calls for bandhs have increased due to political instability.
Bharat bandh was called by the opposition party NDA on 31 May 2012, to protest against a steep hike in petrol prices.
On 20 September 2012, the BJP and otherparties called for a nationwide bandh in response to economic reforms undertaken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram. Chief among their grievances were the cut in subsidies for diesel and cooking gas and the decision to allow foreign investors to own majority stakes in the retail sector, including supermarkets and department stores.
One noteworthy incident is of bandh after the Akshardham Temple attack in Gujarat, in September 2002; it was the first time in history that a nationwide bandh was called after a tragic incident. All of India remained closed, from small tea stalls to the commodity and other stock markets at the Bombay Stock Exchange.
In 2016, the states of Kashmir, Gujarat, and Karnataka were most badly affected by frequent bandhs and strikes.
On 1 January 2018, Buddhists, as well as some Hindu dalit, OBC and Sikh people were violently attacked by Hindutva ideological people at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district, Maharashtra. But the Maharashtra government and the state police did not take any action against the culprits i.e. Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. So on 3 January 2018, Prakash Ambedkar called on the people of Maharashtra to call "Maharashtra Bandh". This call to shut down Maharashtra received a huge response from the people and the bandh was a success. The bandh was seen across Maharashtra including Mumbai. More than 50% Maharashtrian people supported or participated in the bandh.
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- Pay damages first, court tells parties; The Hindu, Saturday, 17 September 2005
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- "Bandh hits normal life in Karnataka". The Times Of India. 31 May 2012.
- Mallet, Victor (20 September 2012). "Indians Voice Anger at Reform Plans". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 September 2012.