Cities across West Bengal were deserted since early on Wednesday as the state shut down because of a day long strike called by central trade unions to protest against the Centre’s proposed labour reforms.
Shopkeepers downed shutters, vehicles went off the roads and people stayed away from work though the state government pulled out all stops to foil the strike.
In the industrial belt of North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts, workers stayed away from jute mills, engineering plants and other establishments.
There were a few incidents of violence in districts such as Birbhum and Murshidabad, where supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress were accused of unleashing violence on CPI-M workers.
Siliguri mayor Ashok Bhattacharya was arrested for organising a procession in support of the bandh.
Key junctions of Kolkata such as Gariahat, Shyambazar, Moulali, Esplanade, Park Circus, Rashbehari and Ruby crossings and Howrah and Sealdah railway stations were deserted since the morning.
The ferry ghats, where people cross the Hooghly river, sold only a fraction of the tickets they usually sell on weekdays.
Though state-run buses were on the roads, they were nearly empty. There were almost no cabs – both traditional yellow taxis and those of OLA and Uber – on the roads.
Though the West Bengal government warned its employees they would lose a day's salary and suffer a break in service if they stayed away from work, attendance in offices, including the state secretariat, was thin.
Out of more than 3,000 employees of the state secretariat, about 400 stayed back in office on Tuesday night. But many of their colleagues did not turn up on Wednesday.
Attendance in Writers' Buildings was particularly thin with completely empty corridors.
In both establishments, there were almost no visitors during the day.
Leaders of the Left parties organised a procession at noon to congratulate people of the state for participating in the strike.