Kolkata: The Bharat Bandh called by central trade unions in West Bengal evoked mixed response in the State here on Friday.
Amidst elaborate security arrangements, public transport was visible on city roads but fewer people came out on the streets. Traffic flow remained smooth with not many vehicles on road and police presence was seen at every important intersection.
More than 3,000 personnel of Kolkata Police have been deployed on the road and police check posts at 357 intersections in the city. State’s Transport Minister Subhendu Adhikari said that over 2,000 buses across the State and 90 trams were operating – which is a higher number than usual days.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who left for Rome early in the morning said that she will keep a watch on the situation from Dubai, where she will arrive at 2 pm in the afternoon. She said that the bandh will be a failure in the State.
As the day progressed Left supporters hit the streets in various parts of the city. The Trinamool Congress supported held counter rallies to foil the bandh.
In certain parts of the city like Behala, the supporters of Left and TMC came dangerously close to each other and police had to intervene and control the situation with baton charge. A similar situation had developed in Lake Market area of the city where people in support of the strike and those opposing it met head on.
In Kolkata, central business district police personnel tried to open offices where bandh supporters had put up pickets preventing willing employees to join their duties.
In Siliguri, the only bastion of the Left, the bandh was near total with shops and other establishments being shut. The Mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation and CPI(M) leader Asok Bhattacharya along with other leaders like Jibesh Sarkar were arrested by Siliguri City Police.
At Behrampore in Murshidabad district, supporters of ruling TMC were seen trying to forcibly open the office of Berhampore Municipality. Stray incidents of unrest in the Durgapur Raniganj industrial area were also reported.
Three public busses were attacked by supporters of the strike. By afternoon, hundreds of people were taken into custody.