Protesters say the arrival of international giants like Walmart and Britain's Tesco grocery chain in India could potentially put millions of small businesses out of business.
"We don't want Walmart in India," Prakash Karat, leader of the Communist Party of India, told India Ink during protests in New Delhi Thursday. "We won't support a single Walmart in India."
The New York Times said the one-day action was called by India's main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to protest diesel fuel price hikes and policy changes that would open India's economy further.
India announced on Sept. 14 it would allow foreign retailers to own a 51 percent stake in joint ventures.
CNN said protesters halted at least 200 trains during the day; some delayed more than an hour.
"These multinationals will ruin millions of small traders," an official of the Confederation of all India Traders told CNN.