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Strike hits normal life in West Bengal, 200 arrested


Kolkata: A day-long nationwide strike hit the normal life in West Bengal today with impact on banking and transport services, while nearly 200 persons were arrested from different parts of the state and clashes occurred at some places between the Left and Trinamool workers.

The clashes took place at Baharampore and Domkal in Murshidabad district, while instances of scuffle were also reported from other parts of the state.

Train services of South Eastern Railway and Eastern Railway were partially affected due to the strike, called by ten central trade unions and their state affiliates. Metro Rail services in the city, however, remained normal.

State government buses and trams plied on the roads but there were less private buses, minibuses and taxis. Most shops, markets and business establishments remained closed.

Airport officials said the flights of Air India and other airlines operated normally at the NSC Bose International Airport, although passengers faced inconvenience due to inadequate number of taxis.

Police said there were also instances of stone pelting and use of low-intensity bombs at some places in Murshidabad, after which six CPI-M workers were arrested.

The CPI-M alleged its former Rajya Sabha MP Moinul Hasan was injured along with 15 others when the TMC workers attacked a party procession.

TMC’s Murshidabad district President Mannan Hossain denied the allegation and claimed that CPI-M workers attacked his party workers and his car also got damaged.

In Siliguri, its Mayor and CPI-M leader Ashok Bhattacharya and Darjeeling district General Secretary Jibesh Sarkar along with over 50 party workers were arrested while taking out a procession in support of the bandh.

While Bhattacharya said that the strike was entirely successful with very few people on the streets, the North Bengal Development Minister Goutam Deb said that Trinamool Congress workers were asked by the leadership to desist from taking to the streets to resist the bandh.

In the capital, a minor scuffle took place between SUCI activists and police personnel in downtown Esplanade.

Operations at Kolkata Port Trust was normal with work continuing on 18 ships, of which six are in Kolkata Dock and 12 in Haldia Dock, according to its Chairman R P S Kahlon.

Official sources said the state secretariat recorded near normal attendance.

CITU-backed All India Coal Workers Federation General Secretary Jiban Roy claimed that operation in coal sector was widely affected.

Operations in IT sector was, however, normal as most of the employees were present in their offices.

Barring some branches, most of the banks were closed across the state.

Commenting on the violence, Leader of Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra said “This is a barbaric government which is using brute force of both police and goons to stop people from participating in the strike. The people have witnessed this today and they will give them (TMC) a befitting reply.”

Countering Mishra, State Housing minister Arup Biswas said, “The people of Bengal are fed up with the strike politics of Left Front. They want to move ahead and so they are opposing the strike.”

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