Bharat Bandh: Sporadic incidents of violence in Bengal on Day 2 of trade union strike
Train services were disrupted at a few stations in Nadia, East Burdwan and South 24 Parganas districts. Protesters blocked railway tracks at some spots and at others they threw banana leaves on overhead wires to disrupt trains.Updated: Jan 09, 2019 13:03 IST
Reports of vandalism and violence came from several towns in West Bengal on Wednesday, the second day of the two-day nationwide shutdown called by ten central trade unions to protest the Centre’s “anti-workers policies”.
Police said in a statement that 391 people, including 357 men and 34 women, were arrested from different parts of Bengal on Tuesday on charges of disrupting public life.
Two agitators were arrested on Wednesday on charges of attacking the car of two students going to an exam venue in Memari in East Burdwan district on Tuesday. Television channels showed the student pleading with them to let them go as the men attacked their vehicle.
Train services were disrupted at a few stations in Nadia, East Burdwan and South 24 Parganas districts. Protesters blocked railway tracks at some spots and at others they threw banana leaves on overhead wires to disrupt trains. Railway Protection Force personnel dispersed the agitators at Shimurali station in Nadia district.
There were reports of stones being hurled at a bus in Dasnagar in Howrah district that injured two students in the vehicle. A couple of small passenger vehicles were vandalised in the north Bengal town of Cooch Behar. Buses were also targeted in Cooch Behar and Suri in Birbhum district.
Tension was reported in Midnapore town of West Midnapore district when two processions, one by the Left in favour of the strike and another opposing it, came face to face. Workers did not report for work in several jute mills in North 24 Parganas district.
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More vehicles were seen on the streets of Kolkata and the suburbs compared to those on the first day of the strike.
Policemen were deployed in larger numbers on the streets of Kolkata than posted on Tuesday. State transport minister Subhendu Adhikari said the administration was determined not to allow the agitators paralyse the city.
Police detained the leader of the Left parties in state assembly Sujan Chakraborty and several agitators for trying to lead a procession from Jadavpur in south Kolkata. He was detained from the same area on Tuesday.
Chakraborty’s detention triggered a meeting of the Left leaders to chalk out a strategy to spread the agitation in the city and suburbs. “The facts have to be found out first. It has to be looked into whether supporters of the government committed the act to give the agitators a bad name,” Chakraborty said when asked about agitators vandalising a school bus in North 24 Parganas district on Tuesday.
Chakraborty claimed on Wednesday morning that life was affected in the industrial areas of Asansol, Durgapur and the tea gardens of north Bengal. “However, some busses and vehicles are plying in Kolkata and some were doing so due to intimidation by the ruling party,” he claimed.
Incidentally, on Tuesday evening, state food and supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick threatened that ruling Trinamool Congress’ supporters will beat up if anyone tries to enforce a shutdown.
“Our men will be stationed at every street corner on Wednesday. If the agitators want to enforce the strike and vandalise property, they will be roundly beaten up. They will learn the lesson of a lifetime. We will not tolerate this mischief anymore,” said Mallick.
The attendance at the state secretariat was reported at 92% on Tuesday. The Mamata Banerjee government had issued a notification warning employees of losing salary if they stayed away from work without pre-approved leave on any of the days between January 7 and 10.
First Published: Jan 09, 2019 10:44 IST