There was an overwhelming response in West Bengal on Tuesday to the all-India general strike called by 11 registered trade unions throwing normal life into total disarray. The streets in the city were largely deserted, educational institutions closed and the shutters down on most offices and shops in market places.
Barring incidents of sporadic violence, the day passed off peacefully. The police arrested 32 persons in the city alone for their involvement in incidents of violence on the day. There were also reports of arrests from elsewhere in the State.
Clashes between supporters of the two parties were also reported from the districts, as were incidents of heckling and arrest of several senior leaders of the Left parties including former Ministers.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “We had not wanted any violence….Except for some sporadic incidents, none has been reported”.
On the other hand, Shyamal Chakraborty, president of the State unit of the Centre of India Trade Unions (CITU) said that the success of the strike was “unprecedented” and thanked the people.
Traffic was sparse on the city streets and although there were buses (more than a thousand buses were run by the government transport corporations across the State), they had very few passengers.
The trains of the Metro Railways ran without disruption, but they were also bereft of their usual crowds. According to a press release issued by Metro Railway, the trains catered to about 1.2 lakh passengers during the day. On a normal working day, up to five lakh passengers avail the services of the Metro services. Six flights to the city were cancelled till 4 p.m., according to airport officials.
A circular issued by the State's Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh last week stating that no leave will be granted to employees on the day of the strike has generated an uproar over the State government denying them their legal right to strike. Some employees camped at the State Secretariat on Monday night to be able to report to work.