Buses damaged, trains movement disrupted in Bengal (Lead)May 31st, 2012 - 8:53 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, May 31 (IANS) Protestors damaged and set afire buses, put up road blockades and disrupted train movement as the 12-hour shutdown called against the rise in petrol prices evoked mixed response in West Bengal Thursday.
Fewer private vehicles and taxis were seen on the roads, people ventured out in less numbers, and shops and markets and offices were closed in a few pockets, police said.
However, attendance was 91 percent in the state secretariat, official sources said.
Hundreds of supporters of the National Democratic Alliance, which had called the shutdown along with Left parties, were arrested in the state for disrupting traffic, squatting on tracks and preventing people from going to offices, police said.
In neighbouring Howrah, supporters of the shutdown torched a state government bus, but there were no injuries.
The Howrah Bridge, regarded as the gateway to Kolkata, was blockaded for a long time by shutdown supporters.
Buses were damaged or torched in north Bengal’s Cooch Behar district and Barasat of North 24-Parganas district.
In Siliguri of Darjeeling district, some shops, markets and offices remained closed.
However, the shutdown had no effect in the hills of north Bengal where life was normal.
Train services were disrupted periodically in Sealdah and Howrah sections of Eastern and South-Eastern Railways respectively as protestors squatted on the tracks.
Reports of such disruptions also came from Bankura district.
In Kolkata, police arrested 38 people for trying to disrupt traffic by putting up road blockades.
The shutdown supporters also took out processions and held demonstrations in some localities.
Heavy security arrangements have been made with a large posse of police personnel deployed on the roads to maintain peace.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Commmunist Party of India-Marxist of joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party in indulging in vandalism to make the shutdown a success.
“What kind of shutdown is this… burning buses and terrorising people? If they (BJP) had the political might, they wouldn’t have resorted to such kind of things,” she said.
“The CPI-M is helping their friends BJP in making this bandh a success. But the people of Bengal are not supporting them,” she told reporters.
On the other hand, the BJP said the shutdown was a success. “People responded enthusiastically and spontaneously to the issues. The government tried to curb the democratic movement by resorting to strong arm tactics,” state BJP president Rahul Sinha told IANS.
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Tags: barasat, bharatiya janata party, cooch behar, heavy security, howrah bridge, joining hands, left parties, mamata banerjee, national democratic alliance, north bengal, peace chief, petrol prices, private vehicles, road blockades, siliguri, south eastern railways, state secretariat, train movement, train services, west bengal