Mixed response to SUCI-sponsored shutdown in West Bengal

January 22nd, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 22 (IANS) A 12-hour shutdown called by the opposition Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) evoked partial response in West Bengal Thursday, as agitators squatted on railway tracks disrupting train services and blocked roads. The police said they had arrested 320 SUCI workers across the state.Train movement over both Howrah and Sealdah divisions of South Eastern Railway and Eastern Railway was affected, and several long-distance trains including the Down Danapur Express was held up.

The SUCI convened the shutdown in support of a 18-point charter of demands, including reduction of transport fares following drop in international oil prices and against price rise.

In the city, a sizeable section of private buses, taxis and autos kept off the roads, inconveniencing commuters.

The SUCI workers brought out processions in several parts of the city, including Hazra, Shyambazar and Dharamtala and tried to disrupt traffic movement.

As many as 28 shutdown supporters were arrested from Hazra, an identical number from Dharamtala and 11 from Shyambazar, the police said.

Offices, courts and factories remained open here, with attendance varying from normal to below normal. At the state secretariat, Writers Buildings, however, only one-third of the employees reported for duty.

Some schools declared holiday apprehending trouble.

The neighbouring South 24 Parganas district, a traditional stronghold of SUCI, was the most affected, as a large number of shops, markets schools, colleges remained closed.

In Howrah, vehicular traffic largely remained off the roads.

Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said altogether 320 people were arrested for trying to obstruct bus and train movement across the state.

In the northern town of Siliguri, shops remained closed and, private buses stayed off the roads.

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