Bandh ( _hi. बंद), originally a Hindi word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries in South Asia like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a major political party or a large chunk of a community declares a general strike, usually lasting one day.

Often Bandh means that the community or political party declaring a Bandh expect the general public to stay in their homes and strike work. The main affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their shops closed and the public transport operators of buses and cabs are supposed to stay off the road and not carry any passengers. All this is expected to be voluntary, but in many instances people are terrorized into participating in a Bandh. There have been instances of large metro cities coming to a standstill.

Bandhs are powerful means for civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact that a Bandh has on the local community, it is much feared as a tool of protest.

Bandhs have been criticized because of the disruption of everyday life caused by them. The Supreme Court of India has banned bandhs in 1998, [ Pay damages first, court tells parties] ; "The Hindu", Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 ] but political parties still organize them. In 2004, the Supreme Court of India fined two political parties, BJP and Shiv Sena for organizing a bandh in Mumbai as a protest against bomb blasts in the city. The state with the maximum "Bandhs" in India is West Bengal [ [ WB takes the cake when it comes to bandhs] ; "Economic Times", 18 Dec, 2006, 2230 hrs IST, TNN ] where the average number of bandhs per year is 40-50 (ranging from a couple of hours to a maximum of 2 days per bandh).

A bandh is not the same as a Hartal, which simply means a strike: during a bandh, any business activity (and sometimes even traffic) in the area affected will be forcibly prevented by the strikers. However, in states where bandhs are banned, Hartals may be identical to bandhs except for the name.

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