West Bengal hit by Trinamul shutdown

April 21st, 2008 - 4:59 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, April 21 (IANS) Train services in West Bengal were hit while schools and colleges were closed Monday during a 12-hour strike over rising food prices, with Rahul Gandhi cancelling his flight due to security reasons. The Trinamul Congress and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) had jointly called the strike.

“Priyanka Vadra, Rahul Gandhi and Shah Rukh have cancelled their flights for security reasons,” Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty told IANS.

The celebrities had flown to Kolkata Sunday to cheer for the Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Eden Gardens.

“Train services were badly affected in the Howrah and Sealdah divisions. Most trains were cancelled. Many long-distance trains were stopped at different railway stations,” said Eastern Railway spokesperson Samir Goswami.

“Strikers blocked rail tracks at different stations with trucks and sand sacks,” he said.

Only the Janata Express arrived at the Howrah station, the official added.

Kolkata’s Metro Railway service was not hit by the strike. Also, no flights were delayed or cancelled, according to an official at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport here.

“The airport is overloaded with passengers arriving hours before their actual schedule in the fear of missing the flight. Some of them arrived Sunday night as well,” the official said.

All schools and colleges were closed and Calcutta University’s bachelor degree exams had to be postponed.

Although government and private offices were open, attendance was low. Attendance at the state secretariat Writers Building was only about 15 percent, informed sources said.

There were no private buses and autos on the road. Although public buses were plying, they were stopped at several places.

Police pickets were posted at all major crossings like Golpark, Hazra crossing, Shyambazar and Esplanade.

According to police sources, around 150 Trinamul activists were arrested at Purbasthali in Burdwan district.

Said West Bengal IT Minister Debesh Das: “The IT hub at Salt Lake Sector-V in northeastern Kolkata has been kept out of this shutdown.”

The industrial sectors of Burdwan, Haldia in East Midnapore district and the tea gardens in North Bengal were also not affected.

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