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Bengal bandh over Nandigram takes violent turn

Violence marks the Oppn-sponsored bandh to protest the killing of 14 people.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2007 22:32 IST


Sporadic violence marked the opposition-sponsored dawn-to-dusk "Bangla bandh" to protest the deaths of 14 protestors in police firing of 'Black Wednesday' at Nandigram.

Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy on Friday said there had been more reports of sporadic violence in this bandh than in the past.

"A number of government vehicles, mostly buses, have been either damaged or set ablaze. Bandh supporters also attacked few government offices," he said.

Reports of road blockades, including on national highways, have been received. The CPI(M) office at Panchla in Howrah was set on fire.

Attendance was low in government offices. The State Secretariat had some five per cent attendance. The IT sector, however, worked normally.

In North Bengal, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), however, did not issue any statement against the bandh. While the bandh was total in North Bengal, the tea industry had been kept outside the purview of the bandh.

The allied front of CPRM, Gorkha League, GNLF (C), BJP and Congress were supporting the bandh in the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, which wore a deserted look.

At least 12 people, including two police officials, were injured when bandh supporters clashed with police in Jalpaiguri town, while some people damaged the agriculture office there.

The incident took place when processions of rival party supporters confronted each other and the scene turned ugly as violence broke out.

When policemen came to control the situation, brickbats were hurled on them in which a Deputy Superintendent of Police and a sub-inspector were injured. Police then resorted to lathi charge injuring 10 peope and arrested 20 agitators.

In Siliguri, Trinamool congress supporters cut off the hose-pipe of Tista Torsha Expresss and ignited a fire on the railway tracks. The SDO office was also attacked.

Meanwhile, City Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee said sporadic incidents had been reported from several parts of the city, but there was "nothing major."

Tension prevailed in several areas where supporters of rival political parties came near to clashes but police intervened promptly to calm down the situation, he said, adding 150 people from different

political parties had so far been arrested on various charges.

"All parties have taken out processions and police have not declared any bar on them, but we are not allowing any road blockades.

In some places a few vehicles have been damaged. An estimated 15 to 20 per cent government buses have been plying, " Mr Mukherjee said.

Meanwhile, a ten-member CBI team arrived the site of incident, IG (Western Range) Anup Gupta said.

While the Trinamool Congress, Congress and the SUCI gave separate calls for a 12-hour bandh, the BJP called on the people to observe a 24-hour statewide bandh, protesting the police firing at Nandigram on March 14 and demanding resignation of Chief Minister of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Other Opposition parties like the CPI(ML-Liberation) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) had extended support to the bandh call.

At Nandigram, the bandh evoked total response. All shops and markets remained closed in both east and west Midnapur district.

While shops and markets remained closed in most parts of the state, train services at Howrah and Sealdah divisons of Eastern Railway were disrupted following squatting on tracks by the bandh protagonists.

However, Metro Railway services were as usual till reports last came in.

First Published: Mar 16, 2007 10:33 IST