Millions of people stayed away from work today as unions launched a two-day general strike against spiralling price rises and government plans to open up the economy.
Sporadic violence broke out across the country as workers sought to enforce the stoppage.
Union leader Narender Singh was reportedly crushed by a bus as he tried to stop it leaving a terminal in northern city Ambala.
Other reports said the man was stabbed to death when he confronted strike-breakers.
In Noida, an industrial suburb of New Delhi, set cars and trucks on fire and smashed factory windows with iron bars and rocks to force them to close down.
Most banks had the shutters down, as workers fought the government decision to allow big businesses to enter the banking sector and privatise state-run banks.
All India Bank Employees Association vice-president V Utagi said the banking and finance sector was "100 per cent closed."
Public transport workers also joined the 48-hour India-wide stoppage - the first since independence and likely to rank as one of the biggest strikes in world history.
"Protesters are squatting on the railway tracks or capturing the locomotives.
"We're just helpless," India Railway's Amitabh Prabhakar told Reuters.
All the country's main union federations joined the strike, including Communist-linked CITU, those linked to the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and even the ruling Congress-aligned trade unions.
At the top of their list of 10 demands is a call for a stop to price rises and universalisation of goods benefits.
They're also calling for stricter implementation of labour laws and ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention 87, which guarantees the right to organise and free association.
CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said: "The workers are being totally ignored and this is reflected in the government's anti-labour policies."
And unions are demanding a minimum wage of 10,000 rupees (£120) a month that rises with prices.
The strike was strongest in West Bengal and Kerala.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry estimated on Tuesday that the strike would cost 150-200 billion rupees (£1.8bn-£2.4bn).
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