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Mamata bandh on December 3

Nov. 8: Mamata Banerjee has again lined up an old ploy to paralyse Bengal.

The Trinamul Congress leader today called a bandh on December 3, a Friday, her third this year after those in February and August.

The December strike will also be the third in 17 days as the SUCI and the CPI(ML) have called bandhs on November 17 and 22.

At Writers' Buildings, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the government will oppose the bandhs, called to protest against the Centre's decision to hike fuel prices and the state's failure to curb 'criminalisation of politics'.

Asked for a reaction to the strike calls, he said: 'It is not a question of how I react to them but up to the people 'how they react.'

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said: 'Bandhs have now lost their relevance.' In Bengal, 'people will not accept such bandhs'.

The Congress denounced the shutdown calls.

A petition challenging the November 17 bandh was moved in Calcutta High Court today though it had pleaded helplessness while hearing such cases earlier.

A vacation division bench comprising Justice Pratap Kumar Roy and Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya fixed the hearing of the petition, filed by the West Bengal Minority Forum, for Wednesday.

In June 2003, the division bench of former chief justice A.K. Mathur had said the judiciary could do little to prevent bandhs till political parties realised how people suffered because of them.

A petitioner's lawyer said: 'The bandh in the festival season will result in losses worth about Rs 5,000 crore. The court should order its promoters to pay Rs 1 lakh to each sufferer.'

Appearing for the forum, lawyers Idris Ali and Sreemoyee Mitra said that the Supreme Court had ruled that bandh callers were liable to pay damages to those who suffer financial losses.

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