Kolkata: Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various parts of West Bengal as trade union activists backed by Left and Congress members tried to enforce the 24-hour strike.
The strikers blocked trains and road traffic in several parts of the state, affecting normal life.
In East Midnapore district, stones were hurled at buses. When the police tried to remove the protesters, a scuffle ensued, following which several strikers were arrested, the police said.
The protesters tried to break past barricades in Kolkata’s Jadavpur and Central Avenue areas, prompting the police to use force. Several strikers were arrested. In Dum Dum and Lake Town areas, clashes broke out between the Left supporters, who took out rallies in support of the strike, and Trinamul supporters who were opposing it.
Country-made bombs were found on various roads in Barasat area of North 24 Paraganas district, the police said. The strikers also took out rallies in the industrial belt of the district and blocked roads and railway tracks.
The police removed them to ensure movement of vehicles without a hitch. Daily commuters and office-goers across the state had a tough time as the number of vehicles plying on the roads was much less than other days.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the CPI(M)-led Left Front of gaining “cheap publicity” by calling frequent bandhs.
Denouncing the violence, she told the Left that “political death” is a “better” option than “cheap publicity.” The Trinamul Congress supremo called the CPI(M) in Kerala “far better” than the Marxists in Bengal. “Bandh by force would not happen in Bengal. It was not allowed and it will not be allowed. They find themselves getting totally rejected in every bandh,” she said angrily at Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas.
Banerjee noted, “Still they call four bandhs a year. I do not know why they do it. They feel they would get cheap publicity by calling a bandh and hurling bombs at bus. Political death is better than such publicity. Stop hooliganism in a movement’s name. The party has become a signboard here after doing hooliganism. Kerala CPI(M) is far better than them.”
Normal life was also somewhat hit in BJP-ruled Assam as vehicles remained off the roads and markets were shut. Shops and markets kept their shutters down though pharmacies were open, while educational institutions, especially schools, remained closed. The scheduled exams in colleges and higher educational institutions were, however, held normally. Public transport, both local and long distance, kept off the roads. Petrol pumps were also shut.
Though most private offices were not operating, state government offices were open with employees attending work....