Bengal govt makes attendance must in offices to oppose Bharat Bandh
The Mamata Banerjee administration in West Bengal has made it mandatory for government officials to attend office on Thursday to foil the Bharat Bandh called by trade unions.
The government has warned that if any official is absent from office, it would be treated as dies non or break in service. This is, however, not the first time that the government has taken such a stand since the Trinamool Congress-led government came to power in 2011.
The nationwide strike has been jointly called by various central unions protesting against various policies of the government. More than 250 million workers from across the country are expected to participate in the Bandh.
“The Bengal government has its own views on some of the issues for which the strike has been called. The government is also against the Bandh culture. Hence it has been decided that all government offices will remain open and attendance of employees will be mandatory,” said a top official in the government.
The strike began at 6am Thursday. Railway services in both Howrah and Sealdah divisions were disrupted as Bandh supporters blocked trains at multiple places and stations across the state. Banana leaves were hurled on overheard wires to disrupt power so that trains couldn’t operate. There were very few taxis at the pre-paid taxis stands and passengers had to wait to get one.
In some places, such as Garia in south Kolkata, there were reports that protesters hurled bricks at government buses, breaking the windshields, in a bid to stop them. In some places, bus passengers were forced to get down by Bandh supporters.
“The bus passengers were never forced. We urged them to get down. This is a people’s Bandh,” said a Bandh supporter, requesting anonymity.
In the morning, Left and Congress supporters took to the streets in Kolkata to back the all-India strike call and blocked arterial roads and busy intersections. There was heavy police deployment to maintain law and order. Heated altercations also broke out between the police and Bandh supporters.
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