Siliguri: Siliguri mayor Ashok Bhattacharya, CPI(M) Darjeeling district general secretary Jibesh Sarkar and nearly 100 pro-bandh supporters were on Friday arrested by the Siliguri police when they were picketing on Hill Cart Road to enforce the nationwide strike.
Normal life was paralysed in town and its adjoining areas following the 24-hour general strike called by 10 national trade unions against the labour policies of the BJP-led NDA central government.
The roads were devoid of traffic except for a few government buses. Business establishments also remained closed for the day and a very few number of employees were seen in government offices and institutions despite the state government’s strict warning of taking action against absentees.
Four CPI(M) supporters picketing at the Venus More and Court More areas were arrested in the morning. Ten more bandh supporters along with SMC Ward 4 councillor Parimal Mitra were also picked up while picketing.
A few hours later, bandh supporters locked horns with the Siliguri police in the presence of the mayor near Anil Biswas Bhawan, the CPI(M) office, while trying to stage a protest rally across town. Siliguri police station IC Achinta Gupta and SMC mayor-in-council Shankar Ghosh engaged in a heated discussion over the staging of the rally. Bhattacharya, Sarkar and many others were detained for some time for forcibly trying to take out a rally without prior police permission. Bhattacharya was arrested in the presence of ACP east Pinaki Mazumdar and IC Gupta.
After his release, the mayor called a press conference where he threatened to launch an aggressive movement if their demands are not met by the central government. He also slammed Mamata Banerjee and the TMC government for using police force to lift the bandh. “Our bandh was against the policies of the central government, but the state government made it a case against them and used police force to arrest our supporters,” he said.
The Darjeeling Chronicle