The 24-HOUR general strike called by central trade unions disrupted normal life in the state after sporadic clashes between bandh enforcers and policemen were reported from parts of Bengal.
The 24-hour strike was called in protest against the Centre’s economic policies such as privatisation of PSUs, new farm laws and labour laws.
Workers of of CPM-affiliated outfits such as CITU and DYFI took out rallies in Entally, Lenin Sarani, Jadavpur, Garia, Lake Town, Kamalgazi, Dum Dum and etc. which disrupted vehicular movement in and around the city. In New Town area, bandh supporters were seen asking shopkeepers to pull down the shutters
Left supporters blocked roads in Central Avenue, Hastings, Shyambazar and Moulali areas in the city. Workers of the Congress, which supported the bandh, tried to forcibly shut down shops in Burrabazar area.
Left Front Chairman Biman Bose led a rally of Congress and Left workers in Mullickbazar area.
On the other hand, bandh supporters clashed with the police at Barasat and Belgharia in North 24 Parganas district, West Burdwan’s Durgapur, Cooch Behar’s Mathabhanga, Jalpaiguri’s Dhupguri and West Midnapore district’s Midnapore town.
Bandh enforcers also burnt tyres and broke the windscreen of buses in Coochbehar and Jhargram districts. Suburban train services in the Sealdah division were affected as agitators blocked railway tracks at several stations. According to Eastern Railway officials, bandh supporters obstructed tracks at Dakshin Barasat, Baharu, Dhakuria, Joynagar, Champahati, Subhasgram and Betberia Ghola stations in the south section and Ichapur, Palta, New Barrackpore, Barrackpore and Dumdum Cantonment stations in the main section. Railway tracks at Serampore and Chandannagar railway stations in ER”s Howrah division were blocked.
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty led a group of protesters to squat on railway tracks at Jadavpur station in south Kolkata.
Train services in South Eastern Railway’s Howrah- Kharagpur section were partially affected as agitators blocked railway tracks at Balichak, Midnapore and a few other stations for some time.
A group of Forward Bloc supporters tried to enter the Central metro station on the North-South line of the Kolkata Metro to prevent commuters from boarding the trains. The police however prevented them from entering the underground metro station premises. Flight services at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, however, remained unaffected.
Banking services were partially affected as several branches and ATMs remained closed.
Operations at the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port’s Kolkata Dock System were partially affected but its Haldia Dock functioned normally.
In all 140 persons, including 39 women, were arrested (from Kolkata Police area) and brought to Central Lock Up, Lalbazar. Later, they were released on P.R. Bond, said a senior officer of Kolkata Police.
Trade unions like Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) and Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) are part of the strike. BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), however, did not took part in the strike.
The CPM claimed that the bandh has been successful and said this will pave way for intensified movements in the state.
“At a time when Left workers called a bandh against the Centre’s economic policies, the TMC government in the state tried to stop us. Despite such a threat from the state government, people have raised their voice and supported the bandh. This will pave way for a new phase of movements in the state. People will continue to hit the streets to fight for their right,” said CPM leader Mohammad Salim.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her party morally supported the issues of the Left but cannot support their call for a bandh.
“On Thursday, workers have carried out a movement in the country. We support their movement on principle but we do not support the bandh. However we agree with their demands and issues. We know that the Centre is selling out PSUs such as Railways, Coal India, civil aviation and etc. After selling out the country, the Union Home Minister is now busy conducting civic polls. I have never seen a government of this kind,” said Banerjee.
The BJP, however, claimed that the TMC was helping the CPM and Congress combine to counter the BJP. “TMC is encouraging the CPM and Congress ahead of Assembly polls to divide the Opposition votes. This is their last resort. But people of Bengal will either vote for the TMC or the BJP and we believe the votes will be in favour of the saffron party. TMC is now giving moral support to the CPM and Congress which had entered into an alliance with corrupt RJD in Bihar. The people have rejected Thursday’s bandh,” said BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya.
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