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Twin blows, beneath and above

Raiganj MP Mohammed Salim (circled) addresses demonstrators from atop a mini-truck on Bentinck Street on Thursday evening. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Disruption of Metro services at Maidan station and a Left Front sit-in on Bentinck Street landed the city centre a double whammy on Thursday evening.

A New Garia-bound non-AC train was stalled at Maidan station after passengers spotted sparks on the ceiling of a coach and raised the alarm around 5.30pm.

“The train was packed with mostly homebound office-goers. They came out of the affected coach at Maidan and reported the sparks to the driver, who informed the stationmaster. A few minutes later, engineers from the electrical department reached the station and repaired the fault,” a senior Metro official said.

“The fault was fixed in 10 minutes but we asked the passengers to vacate the train and sent it to the Tollygunge car shed for a thorough check,” the official added.

The empty train left the station at 5.42pm and normal services resumed thereafter.

The snag stalled three other trains heading towards New Garia at Esplanade, Chandni Chowk and Central stations for at least 15 minutes. “The disruption happened at rush hour when trains were running at five-minute intervals, carrying thousands of passengers home,” the official said.

The official stressed that train services on the Dum Dum line was not affected.

Minutes after the underground disturbance, the Left Front took out a rally with over 1,000 supporters marching towards Lalbazar to submit a memorandum to the city’s chief cop, Surajit Kar Purkayastha, over police inaction against alleged Trinamul hoodlums.

The result: traffic crawled on Bentinck Street, Waterloo Street, Prafulla Sarkar Street and parts of CR Avenue for about an hour.

The rally started from the Dorina crossing at 6pm and moved along Bentinck Street. “When the demonstrators were stopped 15 minutes later at the Bentinck Street–Prafulla Sarkar Street crossing, Raiganj MP Mohammed Salim climbed onto the roof of a mini-truck and began addressing the crowd then and there. The entire stretch got clogged by an impromptu sit-in,” an officer said.

They dispersed after the police accepted their memorandum but the damage has been done by then as hundreds of commuters were left stranded on clogged streets on central Calcutta.