Total shutdown in West Bengal to protest fuel price hikes

June 5th, 2008 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) Flight schedules went haywire and train services came to a halt as a 12-hour shutdown called by West Bengal’s ruling Left Front to protest the central government’s fuel price hikes paralysed life across the state Thursday. Shops and business establishments remained closed, streets were deserted, vehicles remained off the roads, schools and colleges gave unofficial holidays as the state witnessed yet another ‘government sponsored’ shutdown.

No major incident of violence was reported in the morning.

“We have no reports of any violence so far. The shutdown is being observed peacefully,” West Bengal Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

Passengers had a trying time at the NSC Bose International airport of this metropolis as one flight after another was cancelled, while train services were disrupted in both south-eastern and eastern railways. Protesters squatted on railway tracks at various stations.

Suburban trains were cancelled while long distance trains were stuck at various stations en route.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led government seemed to have played its part in the success of the shutdown as the administration remained a mute spectator while Left party activists forced passengers out of taxis and squatted outside metro rail stations.

Government-run buses did not ply. But the IT sector escaped the loss of a man-day as it was kept out of the purview of the shutdown.

Protesting the central government’s decision to hike prices of petroleum products, West Bengal’s ruling Left Front gave a call for statewide shutdown Thursday (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) even as the main opposition Trinamool Congress also called for shutdown over the same issue the next day.

The price of diesel has been increased by Rs.3 per litre, of petrol by Rs.5 and that of cooking gas by Rs.50 per cylinder.

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