Protesting against police atrocities,Trinamool-backed Auto Bachao Committe (ABC) and the Progressive Taxi Mens Union called a 12-hour auto and taxi strike in the city on Saturday.
Around 100 Trinamool supporters held a protest march near Alipore police court where the 18 people arrested on Friday were produced.
Trinamool supporters assembled at Hazra crossing from 2 pm and around 5 pm they marched to Gariahat and towards Broad Street and Bondel Road. The police intercepted them at the Palm Avenue.
Trinamool has threatened that the party will continue with the resistance till its demands are met and has called for a mass gathering at Hazra crossing on January 6.
Police and CPM cadres have applied force on us and are trying to suggest that we are indulging in clashes. We want a peaceful protest but if CPM forces us,we will give them a befitting repl, said Madam Mitra,leader of Progressive Taxi Association.
The police have arrested the drivers without any proper documentary evidence and we demand their release, he added.
Other participants of the rally included Trinamool leader MLA Shovandeb Chattopadhyay,Madan Mitra,Sonali Guha and members of Krishi Jami Raksha Committee. They demanded the immediate release of those arrested yesterday.
The 60,000 autos provided by the Bajaj automobile company will have a double-mode fuel option which is against the High Court order. The CPM government is operating in an illegal maner. Even after the July 12 order of the court the government has authorised many new two-stroke autos, said Chattopadhyay.
Commuters were once again at the receiving end of the agitation and political rallies in the city as many vehicles were off the road.
There should be an end to the way politicians hold the public to ransom. I faced a lot of difficulties as I tried to move from Ballygunge to Hazra since only some auto-rickshaws and taxis were plying, said Sanatan Burman,who had to walk from his home to the nearest metro station.
The state government,meanwhile,has ruled out any discussion with auto drivers on the issue.
State principal secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti said: There is no question of a discussion because there is an order from the High Court on the issue and everybody will have to abide by it. We are not clamping down on autos,but just abiding by the directive of the Calcutta High Court.