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Strike spares coal and steel

A Trinamul supporter pulls off a CPM flag at the SBI office in Asansol; block information officer of Nakashipara Debrup Mukherjee, who was hit. (Gour Sharma and Supriyo Dasgupta)

Sept. 20: The Left’s general strike was partial in south Bengal with reports of sporadic violence.

Some local trains were blocked by bandh supporters but police cleared the tracks.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said 88 to 89 per cent Writers’ employees were present today and 666 people were arrested across the state for disruptive activities.

Most shops and establishments in Murshidabad, Nadia, Bankura and Purulia remained closed. Private buses in these districts did not ply.

Trinamul and CPM supporters clashed in Asansol around 11am over fixing party flags on the gate of a State Bank of India branch. Police chased away the two groups and detained CPM zonal committee secretary Partha Mukherjee.

Soon, around 500 CPM supporters led by Asansol MP Bansagopal Chowdhury gheraoed Asansol (south) police station for nearly an hour, following which Mukherjee was released. The CPM then brought out a procession in the town with Mukherjee.

“The government tried to foil the strike with police help but the people spontaneously supported us,” Chowdhury said.

Durgapur remained peaceful. Even though the old markets remained closed in both Asansol and Durgapur, shopping malls were open. But there were hardly any customers.

Government-aided schools remained open but the attendance of students was thin.

Many teachers who live far away from their schools stayed back at colleagues’ houses in Durgapur and Asansol last night to attend work today.

“Most teachers in our school were present today. However, many students could not come as buses were not available. Classes were held,” said Jainul Haque, who teaches English at DPL Boys’ High School.

The steel and coal sectors functioned normally, with over 80 per cent attendance recorded.

“Durgapur Steel Plant recorded 87 per cent attendance. This proves that the working class rejected the Left’s strike,” said Debasish Chowdhury, the assistant secretary of the Intuc-affiliated union at the plant.

The Citu convener of Durgapur, Pankaj Roy Sarkar, said the union had “spared” the coal sector and continuous-process industries. Private factories in the twin towns functioned normally.

BJP supporters in Nadia allegedly beat up the block information officer of Nakashipara, Debrup Mukherjee, when he was entering office this morning. Later, BDO Partha Pratim Chatterjee lodged an FIR and eight persons were arrested.

In Hooghly, alleged Trinamul supporters beat up the BJP general secretary of the district, Swapan Pal, when he along with around 20 party supporters tried to stop a truck on GT Road. The BJP observed a Bharat bandh today.

A police officer said the BJP activists hurled stones at the truck, breaking the windshield. “A group of Trinamul supporters prevented the BJP activists and a clash ensued. We have arrested 13 BJP supporters,” he said.

In Birbhum, Forward Bloc activists attacked a Bolero belonging to the block development officer of Muraroi-II and beat up panchayat samiti chief Rohina Bibi and her husband Mohammad Badruddoja. Two Bloc activists were arrested.

Alleged Trinamul workers taking part in an anti-bandh procession ransacked a CPM zonal committee office and a BJP office in Birbhum’s Ahmedpur.

In Bankura’s Bishnupur, CPM zonal committee member Atin Samantha’s home was allegedly ransacked by Trinamul supporters. District police chief Mukesh Kumar, however, said the attack was not linked to the bandh.

In Barjora in the same district, a Trinamul procession was allegedly attacked by CPM cadres around 9am. Borjora panchayat pradhan Alok Mukherjee said: “Around 1pm, CPM men attacked two of our party workers when they were returning from the procession.” District CPM chief Amiya Patra denied the allegation.

Most shopkeepers in Nadia and Murshidabad kept their shops closed, saying they did not want to take any risk.

In Bankura and Purulia, Forward Bloc and CPM activists worled in tandem to make the bandh a success.