West Bengal witnessed a near-complete shutdown in response to the nationwide 24-hour strike called by several central trade unions on Tuesday in protest against the policies of the UPA government on various issues, including the rise in the prices of essentials.
Barring sporadic clashes between supporters of the strike and those of the Trinamool Congress, who had opposed it, the day passed off peacefully. More than 1200 persons were arrested across the State.
“We are very pleased to see that the strike was successful across the State and in all sectors,” said Kali Ghosh, secretary of the West Bengal Committee of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
While banks, financial institutions, factories and commercial establishments remained closed, some of the tea gardens in Jalpaiguri remained open. The Information Technology sector was severely affected even though thin attendance was noted in some of the firms in the State's IT hub at Salt Lake.
Attendance at Writers' Buildings, the State secretariat, was also sparse. However, attendance at the Trinamool-administered Kolkata Municipal Corporation was 40 per cent, according to sources.
Trinamool supporters violated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code and staged demonstrations outside the Secretariat. The police arrested 38 persons in the incident.
Even though the aviation sector was not within the purview of the strike, over 170 flights coming to and departing from the city were cancelled.
About 40 departures and arrivals took place during the day, most of them operated by Air India. Very few private airlines operated flights, said R. Srinivasan, director of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.
The few passengers who could come to the city had a harrowing time as most means of transport stayed off the road. Children were playing football and cricket on roads that are usually chocked with traffic. Very few privately owned cars and two-wheelers interrupted their games.
Operation of trains by the Metro Railway came to the rescue of many commuters within the city. Trains ran as usual as the railways had been exempt from the strike.
Shops and market places remained closed through the day.