The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal shuts down, Jharkhand chokes

Dec. 14: Chief minister Madhu Koda, whose government is backed by the UPA, today received a taste of the might of the Citu as long-distance buses went off the roads, postal, telecom, banking and insurance services remained paralysed and movement of trains was affected.

Citu, the labour arm of the CPM, had called a 24-hour general strike in protest against the UPA government’s economic and industrial policies.

However, a statewide Jharkhand bandh called by the CPM, CPI, Forward Bloc, RSP, Marxist Coordination Centre and CPI (ML) to highlight their demands for immediate panchayat polls, checking price hike and proper implementation of the job guarantee scheme in rural areas failed to evoke much response. Schools and educational institutions, as also the wholesale markets in Ranchi, remained open while public transport was near normal.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state. More than 800 activists of the various Left parties were arrested in Ranchi but were let off in the evening.

Work was affected at manufacturing plants, financial institutions and other commercial hubs in the Singhbhum-Kolhan belt.

Most manufacturing units at Adityapur and Gamharia in Seraikela-Kharsawan district except the foundry, sponge and blast furnace remained closed. Citu activists were seen forcing plant owners to down shutters.

Private and nationalised banks, except State Bank of India, remained closed.

The movement of local and long-distance trains was severely affected. “Most long-distance trains, which run on the mainline section of South Eastern Railway, were stranded. Over a dozen trains, including locals, were cancelled from Tatanagar,” senior divisional commercial manager (Chakradharpur) J.S. Bindra said.

The Geetanjali Express was stuck at Tatanagar for four hours. The Howrah Rajdhani and the Sealdah Rajdhani were stopped at Gomoh and Dhanbad.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman A. Kakodkar, who was in Jamshedpur for a seminar, had to travel to Ranchi to take a flight to New Delhi, from where he had to leave for Mumbai.

Air Deccan cancelled its flights to Calcutta from Ranchi. Flights to Delhi, however, took off as usual.

The disruption in flights and trains was more due to the complete bandh in Bengal.

The IT sector worked, but the rest of the state was crippled by the strike which was seen as a victory for Citu in its internal battle with pro-reforms chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Bhattacharjee had promised normal life during the strike, but except for the IT sector, there was a complete shutdown elsewhere.

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