Trinamool shutdown affects life in West Bengal (Second Lead)

June 6th, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 6 (IANS) Vehicles kept off the roads, train services were paralysed and business activity was hit Friday as West Bengal faced a second consecutive day of shutdown, this time called by the opposition Trinamool Congress against the fuel price hike. Few people ventured onto the streets, educational institutions postponed examinations, and attendances in government and private offices was thin in the capital and across the state as the Trinamool enforced its 12-hour shutdown.

The state witnessed a similar shutdown Thursday, called by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front on the same issue.

However, giving relief to the people reeling under the political protests, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee late in the afternoon relaxed the shutdown, allowing long distance trains and other transport to ply and shops to open after 4.30 p.m., one and a half hours before the scheduled end of the agitation.

But earlier in the day, Trinamool supporters flexed their muscles, stopping commuters and forcing shops to down shutters in Kolkata and elsewhere.

There was no major breach of peace, as the administration made no effort to ensure normal life. No arrests were made, and police officers said the day passed off peacefully.

Flight services were not affected like on Thursday but passengers had trouble reaching the city airport as very few taxis hit the streets.

Trinamool Congress supporters squatted on railway tracks in most parts of the state, halting train movement.

Eastern Railway sources said 30 long distance trains had to be cancelled as agitators blocked tracks at stations. Several mail and express trains met the same fate over South Eastern Railway.

“Trains were detained for hours at various stations as the agitators sat on railway tracks. We cannot run local trains also because of the blockade,” said a South Eastern Railway spokesman.

Some markets opened in the city, but there were few buyers and sellers.

“I had opened my shop Thursday, but some violent CPI-M supporters forced me to down shutters. They asked me to keep my shop open Friday to foil the Trinamool shutdown,” said Nirmal Kumar Panda, who has a shop at the Manicktala Market in the northern part of the metropolis.

The normally buzzing Hazra Crossing, a stone’s throw from the Trinamool supremo’s South Kolkata house, looked deserted.

Banerjee led a procession of her party workers in the area against the petro price hike. The IT sector was kept out of the purview of the shutdown, though employees at the IT hub in Salt Lake Sector-3 had a tough time reaching their offices due to the dearth of public transport.

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