Life paralyzed in West Bengal
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Life paralyzed in West Bengal

Normal life was hit in West Bengal today as road and rail services were disrupted and markets and offices were shut during a nationwide shutdown called by non-Congress parties against the hike in fuel prices.

india Updated: Jul 05, 2010 15:52 IST

Normal life was hit in West Bengal on Monday as road and rail services were disrupted and markets and offices were shut during a nationwide shutdown called by non-Congress parties against the hike in fuel prices.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left parties had separately called the shutdown.

Activists of the state's ruling Left Front held rallies and put roadblocks early morning in several areas here, preventing people from going to work.

Strike supporters did not spare the city's IT hub also. Hundreds of Left activists organised rallies and prevented IT professionals from going to offices.

No public and private buses plied in Kolkata. Streets were deserted.

The Socialist Unity Center for India (SUCI), a prominent alliance partner of the Trinamool Congress, had also separately called a 12-hour nationwide shutdown on Monday to protest against the fuel price hike.

Supporters of the BJP and SUCI hit the streets in large numbers to enforce the shutdown. Many commuters alleged they had to return home because of the strong-arm tactics used by the protesters.

"I was going to my father's place in my own car. But I was threatened the car would be damaged if I did't go back," complained Gargi Adhikaray, a housewife.

BJP supporters allegedly thrashed taxi drivers and forced commuters to alight from vehicles.

"There was no breach of peace. The strike is peaceful," said state police Inspector General (Law and Order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha.

Attendance was negligible in government offices. Most ATMs in the city and districts were closed.

Many schools, colleges and universities deferred their examinations.

Travellers at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport and passengers at the Sealdah and Howrah railway stations were the worst-hit.

"Train services were badly hit. Bandh supporters squatted on rail tracks, obstructing train movements. Several trains were stranded and some were cancelled," an Eastern Railway spokesperson said.

Left supporters with flags and banners crowded in front of different metro stations and forced metro employees to shut station gates. Later, the Metro services resumed but there were very few takers.

"We have taken steps to maintain the Metro services. But there are very few passengers. On a normal day there are more than seven lakh commuters," Metro spokesperson R. Mahapatra said.

Ferry services on various rivers across the state were also disrupted. While some operators supported the shutdown, others feared damage by protesters.

"People of West Bengal are supporting the shutdown call wholeheartedly," Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty said.

Some people who supported the issue of the strike doubted whether this form of protest could bring relief to the common man.

"We need to protest against the price hike of fuels. But I don't think that two shutdowns would serve any purpose," said Saibal Roy, an engineer, referring to an earlier strike in the state on the same issue.

On June 26, the CPI-M affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) had given a strike call in the state to protest the fuel price hike.

First Published: Jul 05, 2010 11:50 IST