Stray incidents of violence as Left, Congress sponsored-strike draws mixed response in Bengal

An activist of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) carrying party flag at a street in Kolkata on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

An activist of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) carrying party flag at a street in Kolkata on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP


Stray incidents of violence was reported in Kolkata on Wednesday as the supporters of Left and the Congress tried to enforce the 24-hour all India strike that was called by the central trade unions.

Until afternoon, there was a mixed response to the strike as shops in certain parts of the city and suburbs remained closed and there were fewer number of vehicles seen on road. Suburban Railways services were also affected due to strike as protesters obstructed tracks and covered railway overhead wires with banana leaves. At Barasat, three crude bombs were retrieved from under the railway tracks.

The situation turned volatile at Jadavpur area in the southern parts of the city when the leader of Left Legislature Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Sujan Chakraborty was taken in custody by the police. Mr. Chakraborty was leading a rally in support of the strike. The Left supporters attacked buses and vandalised police vehicles.

Several rallies led by Left supporters blocked traffic at key arterial interactions in the city. Shops in Burrabazar area, the wholesale hub of the city remained closed. In some districts, bandh supporters stopped public vehicles and forced people to come out of their vehicles.

At Siliguri in north Bengal, bandh supporters brought out rallies disrupting traffic. They attacked buses at Cooch Behar and Malda in north Bengal and Birbhum in south Bengal. ATM and banking services has also been severly affected by the strike.

At Aramabaghi in Hooghly, Trinamool Congress supporters tried to open closed shops. Asansol Mayor and Trinamool Congress leader Jitendra Tewari was seen trying to open shops which he alleged was forcibly shut down by strike or bandh supporters.

The strike called by several trade unions including that of the Congress has a long charter of demands, including universalisation of public distribution system, containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation, increase of minimum wages and trade union rights among other issues. The leaders of the trade unions had said that issues like opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill have been included among the charter of demands and has helped them garner more response from people in support of the strike.

Though opposing the bandh, the Trinamool Congress said it supports the issues on which the strike has been called for. The State government has issued a notification that no kind of leave will be granted to State government employees for January 8 and absence will be considered as a break in service.

Mamata directs police to take action

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that those trying to enforce the bandh forcibly are looking for “cheap publicity”. “Police will take a strong action wherever action is required. I still appeal to them (supporters of the strike) to go for democratic people protests,” she said. Ms. Banerjee said that she will not allow anyone to enforce the bandh in the state forcibly.

“For 34 years they could not do anything and whatever I am trying to build they are destroying. The CPI(M) in Kerala is a lot better, at least they believe in their ideology,” she said. Condemning the protests, she dared those enforcing the strike to go and indulge in such hooliganism in Delhi or any other state.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:08:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/stray-incidents-of-violence-as-all-india-strike-draws-mixed-response-in-bengal/article30512103.ece

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