Trade union strike partially affects normal life in West Bengal

Train services were affected in Sealdah South and Main sections as agitators put logs on railway tracks
Last Updated 26 November 2020, 07:30 IST

Normal life was partially affected in West Bengal on Thursday due to the nationwide trade union strike, during which sporadic clashes were reported in several parts of the state.

The 24-hour bandh called by a joint committee of the central trade unions in protest against the Centre's economic policies began at 6 am.

Bandh supporters, mostly activists of CPI(M)- affiliated outfits like CITU and DYFI, brought out rallies in Jadavpur, Garia, Kamalgazi, Lake Town and Dumdum areas in and around Kolkata, disrupting vehicular movement and asking shopkeepers to pull down the shutters of their establishments, an official said.

They picketed outside Howrah railway station, asking vehicle operators to stop services but a large police contingent was deployed to ensure normal plying of vehicles, he said.

Left activists blocked roads in Central Avenue, Hastings, Shyambazar and Moulali areas of Kolkata, the official said.

Protesters clashed with the police in Barasat in North 24 Parganas district during their bid to enforce the bandh, he said.

Bandh enforcers also blocked roads in Coochbehar and Jhargram districts, burning tyres and breaking the windscreen of buses, the official said.

Suburban train services in the Sealdah division were affected as agitators blocked railway tracks at several stations, an Eastern Railway spokesperson said.

Bandh supporters obstructed tracks at Dakshin Barasat, Baharu, Dhakuria, Joynagar, Champahati, Subhasgram and Betberia Ghola stations in the south section and Ichapur, Palta, New Barrackpore, Barrackpore and Dumdum Cantonment stations in the main section, he said.

Banana leaves were thrown on overhead wires at Mathurapur and Hotor railway stations in Sealdah south section, thus affecting train movement, the spokesperson said.

Railway tracks at Serampore and Chandannagar railway stations in ER's Howrah division were blockaded, he said.

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty led a group of protesters to squat on railway tracks at Jadavpur station in south Kolkata.

Train services in South Eastern Railway's Howrah- Kharagpur section were partially affected as agitators blocked railway tracks at Balichak, Midnapore and a few other stations for some time, an SER spokesperson said.

A group of Forward Bloc supporters tried to enter the Central metro station on the North-South line of the Kolkata Metro to prevent commuters from boarding the trains.

They were, however, prevented by the police from entering the underground metro station premises.

Train services in the rapid transport system have remained normal, a Metro Rail spokesperson said.

Flight services at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here also have remained unaffected so far, an official said.

A majority of the tea gardens in north Bengal's Jalpaiguri district remained open but several tea estates in neighbouring Alipurduar were closed, another official said.

"People are supporting our peaceful protests as it is in their interests," a Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activist in Howrah said.

The ruling Trinamool Congress in the state did not support the strike but said it backed the Left and Congress' flagging of the economic issues.

The agitating central trade unions, along with independent federations and associations, expect the participation of 25 crore workers in the strike.

Trade unions like Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) and Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) are part of the strike.

BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), however, is not participating in the strike.

The strike has been called to protest the new farm and labour laws and also to raise various demands, a statement issued by the trade unions said.

Workers in the unorganised sector have also decided to hit the streets to enforce 'chakka jam', it said.

Trade unions affiliated to the Left parties and the Congress had taken out several rallies in Kolkata in the last few days in support of the strike.

(Published 26 November 2020, 05:17 IST)

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