June 23: A 24-hour general strike called by a trade body in North Dinajpur today to demand the establishment of an AIIMS-like hospital in the district brought life to a halt in Raiganj town but had little impact on the Islampur subdivision.
The strike called by the West Dinajpur Merchant Chamber of Commerce was supported by the Left Front and the Congress.
In Raiganj, members of the trade body lay in front of the NBSTC depot this morning, preventing the staff from taking the buses out. The town was shut because of the strike as vehicles kept off roads, and shops and offices remained closed. Around 50 landowners at Panishala, who were willing to part with their plots for the hospital, blocked NH34 for three hours.
In Islampur subdivision, private buses remained off roads but the strike, otherwise, failed to make an impact. A group of people set up a blockade before the SDO office in Islampur for an hour, while Forward Bloc supporters disrupted traffic on NH31.
The highway blockade at Panjipara was from 10am to 11am.
In Siliguri, Congress workers took out a rally to the SDO’s office on Kutchery Road to seek the setting up of the super speciality hospital in Raiganj. The rally was led by Sankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president and Matigara-Naxalbari MLA.
A delegation of Congress workers also submitted a memorandum, addressed to Harsh Vardhan, the Union health minister, to the SDO.
“The state healthcare is bad in north Bengal and if the AIIMS-like hospital is established in Raiganj, it would benefit the entire population of north Bengal, Northeast, Bihar, Sikkim and neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh,” Malakar said.
The Darjeeling district Left Front also announced an agitation from tomorrow for the AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj and on a serious of other issues, like the polls to the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad.