Violence as shutdown affects life in Bengal

Kolkata: Amid reports of violence, the shutdown called by the trade unions against the central government's economic measures affected normal life in West Bengal on Wednesday.

While educational institutions and commercial establishments remained closed, public transport, including buses and Metro trains, operated normally. The number of commuters, however, was lower than usual.

Rail services were hit after shutdown supporters blocked trains in several areas, railway officials said.

People had a harrowing time coming to and from the vital Howrah and Sealdah railway stations as a large number of taxis and autos remained off roads.


Police and protestors clash at North 24 Pargana

With the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) vowing to foil the shutdown and the opposition Left Front asserting returning the fire, there were reports of clashes from across the state.

Some people were injured in the violence and scores were arrested by police.

In Baharampur town of Murshidabad district, at least 10 people, including former Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Moinul Hassan, were injured in a clash.

Hassan accused the TMC for orchestrating the attacks.

CPI-M legislator Dhiren Bagdi was allegedly roughed up and its party office in Mohammadbazar of Birbhum district attacked by TMC activists. Bagdi's security guard was also injured.

The TMC, however, denied the charges.


Protests turning violent at North 24 Pargana

Clashes were also reported from several areas, including Konnagar in Hooghly district, Khargram and Kandi in Murshidabad district, Asansol in Burdwan district and Esplanade in the city.

Seventeen Left parties took out a joint rally in support of the strike here.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose, leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra and other Left leaders took part in the rally.

Even after the Mamata Banerjee government issued a circular declaring absence of government employees on the day be treated as 'dies non' and no salary be admissible, the attendance in the state offices was less than normal.

Slamming the TMC government for using violent tactics, the Left Front claimed the shutdown was a success even as the ruling party asserted the strike was 'completely ineffective'.

"Despite the police and Trinamool goons working hand in hand, the people of Bengal have supported our call. The shutdown has been successful despite the state government's violent tactics," leader of opposition and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

But according to Trinamool leader and state youth affairs minister Aroop Biswas, the shutdown was a complete failure.

"The shutdown has completely failed to evoke any kind of response. From schools to shops, from buses to trains all are operating normally. People have yet again proved they don't support the politics of disruptions," said Biswas.

The countrywide strike has been called by trade unions and their affiliated labour organisations to press for increasing minimum wage to Rs.15,000, representation to unions in labour reform process and providing wages to contractual workers on par with regular workers.

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