Bandh protests set Bengal on fire; cops arrest 55 agitators

Updated: Jan 09, 2020, 11:30 IST | Agencies | Kolkata

Protesters block major road in Sujapur area of Malda district, set tyres on fire, ransack government buses and torch several vehicles, including a police van

Police detain SUCI activists staging a road blockade in support of the Bharat Bandh, in Kolkata. Pic/PTI
Police detain SUCI activists staging a road blockade in support of the Bharat Bandh, in Kolkata. Pic/PTI

Kolkata: Incidents of violence and arson were reported from various parts of West Bengal with buses, a police vehicle and government properties vandalised by strikers who tried to enforce the 24-hour bandh on Wednesday. Protesters blocked a major road in Sujapur area of Malda district, set tyres on fire, ransacked government buses and torched several vehicles, including a police van. When the cops tried to control the situation, they hurled stones and crude bombs. The police then baton-charged the mob, lobbed teargas shells and fired rubber bullets, officers said.

In various parts of the state, railway tracks and roads were blocked, affecting normal life. The protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads in various parts of the East Burdwan district, besides staging sit-in on railway tracks, affecting train services.

In East Midnapore district, stones were hurled at buses after which the protesters clashed with the police, leading to several arrests, officers said. Several buses were also vandalised in Cooch Behar district by the protesters. The bandh supporters tried to break past barricades in Kolkata's Central Avenue area, provoking the police to use force. In Dum Dum and Lake Town, clashes broke out between Left activists and TMC members as rallies in favour of the strike and those against it crossed paths. A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation, officials said.

Heavy police deployment was seen in several areas, including in Tollygunge, Behala, Esplanade and Shyambazar. Slamming the Left and the Congress for trying to enforce the bandh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that those who do not have any political existence in the state are trying to ruin its economy by pursuing "cheap politics" of strikes. She said the police would take action as per law against the protesters.

Till noon, around 55 people were arrested from different parts of the city for allegedly trying to block vehicles, stall government buses or forcibly stop shopkeepers from opening their establishments, a senior officer of the Kolkata police said. Railway tracks were blocked at Jadavpur and vehicular movement was disrupted on nearby roads, following which the police baton-charged strikers.

Delhiites support all-India shutdown

Thousands of members from at least ten trade unions on Wednesday protested in New Delhi against the Centre and extended their support to the all-India shutdown by trade unions. Gathered at the Shaheed Park, the members walked towards the ITO intersection and blocked a section of Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg as well.

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