The 24-hour nationwide strike by central trade unions in West Bengal on Wednesday was marked by incidents of violence and arson, blocking of railway tracks and roads by protesters trying to enforce the shut down, officials said.
The protesters blocked a major road at Sujapur in Malda district, torched several vehicles including a police van, ransacked government buses and set fire to tyres. When police tried to control the situation, they hurled stones and crude bombs.
This led the police to baton-charged the mob, burst teargas shells and fire rubber bullets, they said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had opposed the strike call, blamed the central trade unions, the Left Front and the Congress for incidents of violence in the state.The CPI(M) and Congress was quick to return fire and accused Banerjee of instigating violence. They claimed that TMC cadres and police personnel had indulged in violence in the state.Both the parties pointed to a unverified video clip, that went viral, showing persons wearing police uniforms vandalizing buses.
Visuals have also surfaced of West Bengal Police officials allegedly vandalising vehicles in Malda district.
In the video, smoke can be seen pouring out of a vehicle, while individuals also run around smashing the windshield of cars.
Malda police superintendent Alok Rajoria said the district police has received the video clip and investigation is on.
"If at all any police personnel is found to be involved, then necessary action will be taken," he assured.
Besides Malda, violence and arson was reported in other districts of the state. In East Midnapore stones were hurled at buses and protesters clashed with the police, who made several arrests, officials said.
The protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads in various areas of East Burdwan district, besides blocking railway tracks affecting train services. Several buses were also vandalised in Cooch Behar district by the protesters.
Crude bombs were found on several roads in Barasat area of the North 24 Parganas district and on railway tracks at some places in the district, they said.
(With inputs from PTI)