The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Target area turns back on bandh
- Lukewarm rural response, usual flight schedule and brickbats between cries of total flop & total shutdown

Calcutta, Aug. 2: Mamata Banerjee’s bandh nearly paralysed life in Calcutta and urban pockets but evoked lukewarm response in rural areas that are directly concerned with the issue that prompted the shutdown.

The Trinamul Congress had called the bandh in protest against the government’s move to introduce the block-level pre-litigation conciliation board bill that allows settlement of civil disputes before they reach court.

“Either the bill will stay or Trinamul. Movement to stall the bill is topmost on our agenda,” Mamata said today. She also pledged to meet President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on the issue. A letter with a copy of the proposed bill, she added, has been sent to the President along with a plea to intervene.

Mamata claimed the dawn- to-dusk bandh was “total”.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said it was a “total flop” in rural Bengal and the district towns.

Trains ran despite disruptions on certain sections and planes took off and landed on schedule. Long-distance trains were not affected.

About 5,000 bandh-backers, including 10 Trinamul legislators, were arrested from various parts of the state for trying to disrupt traffic.

Two state buses were stoned at Gariahat and Mominpur and a Maruti van was attacked at Alipore. In Thakurpukur, CPM supporters hurled brickbats at five stationary private buses. In Howrah, a state bus that was plying was stoned on Panchanantala Road and 12 lorries were damaged on National Highway 6.

In Burdwan, Trinamul supporters along with a section of lawyers stood in the way of the district judge and five other judges. Unable to enter the court, they waited in their cars for some time and left. A clash ensued when anti-bandh lawyers tried to enter office.

Railway officials said bandh supporters blocked tracks at Baruipur, Ranaghat, Bongaon, Kalyani, Narendrapur and some other places by throwing banana leaves on overhead wires or placing extra slippers across the lines.

In the Howrah division, trains were disrupted intermittently at several places, including Seoraphuli, Samudragarh, Hind Motor, Purbasthali, Nabadwip and Rampurhat.

Government offices in Calcutta recorded between 40 and 55 per cent attendance but those in the districts clocked about 70 per cent. About a hundred Left Front MLAs attended the Assembly but there was none from the Opposition.

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