At Moulali in Kolkata during the bandh. (Express photo by Partha Paul)
Incidents of violence were reported from various parts of West Bengal on Wednesday as trade union workers of the Left and Congress tried to enforce the 24-hour strike against the Centre’s “anti-people” policies. A total of 170 people were arrested from across the state.
The strike was called by trade unions INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC, along with various sectoral independent federations and associations.
State government offices recorded nearly 95 per cent attendance. Banking services were hit with ATMs and branches of most banks remaining shut.
Bandh supporters blocked railway tracks and roads, which affected normal life in various parts of the state.
Train services were partially hit in a few sections of the Sealdah, Howrah and Kharagpur lines due to obstruction by protesters.
Protesters outside the University of Calcutta. (Express photo by Shashi Ghosh)
Bandh supporters blocked NH-34 in Sujapur area of Malda district, set tyres on fire, vandalised government buses and torched several vehicles, including a police van.
In Kolkata, there were road blockades in several places, while CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty was detained from Jadavpur during a protest.
In Sujapur, the situation turned violent after bandh supporters staged a road blockade on NH-34.
CPM Politburo member Mohammed Salim claimed TMC cadres and police personnel had indulged in violence. Pointing to a video footage, which has gone viral but could not be verified, Salim said it clearly showed policemen vandalising vehicles.
Salim's view was echoed by Congress party leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who too blamed Banerjee for inciting violence during the strike. “Mamata Banerjee and her party are all of a sudden trying to project themselves as saints, as if they have never called a strike. Her opposition to the strike is a farce,” Chowdhury said.
Protesters blocked railway tracks at Jadavpur, disrupting train services. They blocked roads at Jadavpur 8-B bus stand, following which police resorted to lathicharge. CPM MLA and Left Front Legislature Party leader Sujan Chakraborty was detained on charges of instigating violence.
Crude bombs were found on several roads at Barasat in North 24 Parganas district. Pro-bandh rallies were taken out in the industrial belt in Barrackpore and Sodepur.
The Trinamool Congress also took out rallies opposing the strike in some places in north Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Left Front and the Congress for violence and vandalism, saying those who don't have any political existence in the state are trying to ruin its economy by resorting to "cheap politics" of bandh. “This is dadagiri, not a protest. I condemn this...” she said.