New Delhi, January 8: The 2-day Bharat Bandh called by various central trade unions protesting “anti-people” policies of the Centre saw sporadic incidents of vandalism in parts of West Bengal on Tuesday, partially hitting normal life. The nationwide bandh was near total in Kerala.
According to reports, stones were pelted at a school bus in Champadali area of Barasat in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. A Government bus was also ransacked at Champadali, and a bus vandalised at Jamuria in Paschim Bardhaman.
Protestors squatted on railway tracks at some places and burnt tyres on the roads to stop vehicular and train traffic. Train services were disrupted both in Howrah and Sealdah divisions. The affected areas include Hooghly’s Rishra, Uttarpara, East Burdwan’s Samudragarh, Birbhum’s Rampurhat, West Burdwan’s Durgapur in Howrah division of Eastern Railway and also at Uluberia in South Eastern Railway.
Scuffles between police and Bharat Bandh supporters were reported at railway stations in South 24 Parganas district’s Lakhikantapur, Canning; North 24 Pargans’ Madhaygram, Hasnabad and Barasat.
Leaders of political parties, especially the CPI (M), have hit the streets in support of the strike. In Kolkata, police detained senior CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty apart from other strike supporters who took out rallies in Jadavpur, Sovabazar and Sealdah area.
Though many public and private buses were seen plying on the roads of the state capital, taxis and autos mostly kept off the road. Most of the shops too remained closed.
The ruling Trinamool Congress Government has opposed the strike call. The state Government has directed senior police officials and District Magistrates to take adequate safety arrangements for Central Government officials across the state during the general strike. The Government has already issued an order on January 4 in this regard. The state had announced that its employees would be barred from availing casual leave or half day leave on Tuesday and Wednesday. No leave would also be allowed on the day preceding the 2-day strike or following it, the Government notification said on Friday.
Minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the Government would take all measures to maintain public utility services.
The CTUs have called the strike in protest against “pro-corporate, anti-national and anti-people policies of the BJP-led NDA Government”. The charter of demands placed by the 10 central trade unions who have called the strike include minimum wage, universal social security, workers status and including pay and facilities for the scheme workers. They are against any privatisation of public and Government organisations.
Meanwhile, the strike was near total in Kerala on Tuesday and had been peaceful till the time of writing this report.
(TS with agency inputs)