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  • Protest against the proposed privatization of Air India by the government, in New Delhi, India July 18, 2017.

    Protest against the proposed privatization of Air India by the government, in New Delhi, India July 18, 2017. | Photo: Reuters/Archive

Published 9 January 2020

The strike, supported by farmers and student groups, is led by 10 of the country’s main trade unions.

A general strike hit several cities across India on Wednesday, with tens of thousands responding to the call by trade unions to join in protests that coincide with the ongoing mass demonstrations against an amendment to the citizenship law.

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The strike was prompted by several anti-labor policies implemented by the government, such as the privatization of public sector companies. 

The strike will be "followed by many more actions seeking the reversal of the anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national policies of the government,” read the statement issued by the trade unions.

The unions have denounced high unemployment rates, which are at the highest of the last 45 years according to the official estimate.

The strike is disrupting the transportation sector, banking services and trade in several cities of India.

Though it affected mostly cities in the states of West Bengal and Kerala, the unions also took to the streets of the country’s capital, New Delhi, and Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.

The strike took place at the same time as the protests against the controversial amendment to the citizenship act that have been sweeping over India in the past few weeks.

At least 25 people have died in the wave of protests, which is also against a nationwide census meant to identify undocumented immigrants in the country, similar to the one held in the northeastern state of Assam that excluded almost two million people from citizenship.

The amendment seeks to naturalize immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religions but leaves Muslims out of its purview, a fact that has been criticized as contravening the country’s secular spirit.

“Save the Constitution, scrap the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” was one of the lines chanted on Wednesday in New Delhi, along with other slogans directed against the government’s right-wing economic policies.

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