Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from several parts of West Bengal on Tuesday after a nation-wide strike called by trade unions.
As many as 10 central trade unions called for the 48-hour nationwide strike to protest against the alleged anti-people policies of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government. The strike, which began at midnight, has been supported by the All India Kisan Sabha, Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, and several other government organisations.
In the state’s North 24 Parganas district, people pelted stones at a school bus in Champadali area of Barasat and ransacked a government, PTI reported. Similarly, in Paschim Bardhaman district, protestors vandalised a bus. In several parts of the state, protestors squatted on railway tracks to stop trains and also burnt tyres on roads.
Demonstrators burnt Prime Minister Narendra Modi in effigy in many parts of the state, including in Kolkata.
In some areas of the state, scuffles broke out between police and agitating protestors.
At Jadavpur in south Kolkata, senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty along with several other strike supporters were detained by the police, PTI reported. Chakraborty was leading a procession of protestors and blocked an arterial road.
Train services of South Eastern Railways were affected from 6.30 am due to blockades on tracks. South Eastern Railway spokesperson Sanjay Ghosh said many local and long distance trains were delayed. Protestors blocked trains at Bainchi, Mankundu, Mogra stations in the Howrah-Bardhaman section, at Jadavpur, Dhamuah, Hotor in the Sealdah-Diamond Harbour section, and at Barasat, Madhyamgram and Ashoknagar in the Sealdah-Bongaon section, he added.
However, flights from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata operated normally.
Clashes were reported in Asansol between workers of the Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist), according to ANI. In Howrah, Siliguri, Bardhaman, Birbhum, North and South 24 Paraganas, there were clashes between Trinamool Congress workers and supporters of the strike.
The information technology sector, port activities and government offices operated as usual. Tea garden workers did not join the bandh. But banking services were partly affected, with some bank branches and ATMs closed. Public sector insurance firms also remained shut.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions claimed that the strike was successful despite the state government’s attempts to stop it. “Despite attempts by the Trinamool Congress government to foil the strike, it has been quite successful on the first day,” Subhas Mukherjee, the West Bengal president of the body claimed. “The role played by Trinamool Congress is shameful and it has been proved that both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress have a tacit understanding.”
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, as well as BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh claimed the shutdown was a complete failure. “The strike has been a complete failure as people have completely rejected the shutdown culture,” Chatterjee said. “We are also fighting against BJP but we are not in favour of shutdown or strike as a mode of protest.”
The West Bengal government in a notification last week said it would bar employees from availing casual leave or any half-day leave on Tuesday and Wednesday. It will also disallow leave on the day preceding the two-day strike and the day after it.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had claimed that the nationwide strike will have no impact in her state, which will not support any bandh. “Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they [Left Front] have destroyed the state by calling bandh,” she said. “There will be no bandh.”
Though her party opposes the policies of the central government that the bandh is allegedly against, her government will not support the bandh, she reiterated, according to the Hindustan Times. The state’s Congress chief Somen Mitra said they morally supported the strike, while the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed it.