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Bandh hits normal life in Bengal

Kolkata’s wholesale market, Burra Bazar, was deserted during the strike called by trade unions on Wednesday.

Kolkata’s wholesale market, Burra Bazar, was deserted during the strike called by trade unions on Wednesday.  

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Situation turned violent with protesters attacking buses, clashing with police

Normal life was affected in West Bengal on Wednesday as the 24-hour all-India strike called by trade unions affected rail and road transport services in the State.

In certain places, including Kolkata, the situation turned violent with the Congress and the Left activists attacking buses and clashing with the police.

Crude bombs found

Suburban railway services were also affected due to the strike as protesters obstructed tracks and covered railway overhead wires with banana leaves. At Barasat in North 24 Parganas, three crude bombs were retrieved from under the railway tracks and attempts were made to shut down the ticket counter of metro railway at Dum Dum.

The situation turned volatile at Jadavpur area of Kolkata when Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Sujan Chakraborty was taken into custody by the police. In Sujapur in Malda district, bandh supporters clashed with the police. Some videos showed that police resorted to baton charge. The Left and the Congress leadership alleged that the police attacked private vehicles and destroyed private property in Sujapur.

Banking services were also affected. At most places, ATM kiosks were either closed or the machines had run out of cash. The only exception was the State government employees who attended office in large numbers as the government had issued notification stating that an absence would result not only in loss of pay but also break in the service.

‘It is hooliganism’

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that those trying to enforce the bandh are looking for “cheap publicity”. “Police will take strong action wherever required. I still appeal to them to go for democratic protests,” she said.

“What is happening is not protest, it is dadagiri (hooliganism). I condemn it… I support the issues, but there are other ways like peaceful agitation. We will not allow anyone to forcibly enforce bandhs in Bengal. We have not allowed it now, and we will not allow it [in the future],” she said.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Md. Salim and State Congress president Somen Mitra both maintained that the bandh was a huge success.

Both alleged that it was after Ms. Banerjee’s directive that the police swung into action and destroyed public property in Sujapur.

“The Trinamool police in Malda behaved exactly like Yogi Adityanath’s police in Uttar Pradesh. Inspired by U.P. police and instigated by the Chief Minister, the police destroyed private property at Sujapur,” Mr. Salim claimed.

He added that the strike was against the Narendra Modi government and by making attempts to foil the bandh, Ms. Banerjee has made it clear on whose side she is.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:31:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bandh-hits-normal-life-in-bengal/article30518274.ece

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