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West Bengal shuts down over car project (LEAD)

Kolkata, Oct 9 (IANS) Stray incidents of violence and clashes were reported across West Bengal as a 12-hour shutdown by the Trinamool Congress to protest forcible acquisition of farmlands in Singur for a Tata Motors car project evoked near total response, barring the IT sector.

Monday, October 9, 2006 | 3:51:41 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Kolkata, Oct 9 (IANS) Stray incidents of violence and clashes were reported across West Bengal as a 12-hour shutdown by the Trinamool Congress to protest forcible acquisition of farmlands in Singur for a Tata Motors car project evoked near total response, barring the IT sector.

More than 1,800 arrests were made across the state during the bandh, which saw Congress supporters joining in large numbers in a show of solidarity and also the opposition Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI).

The shutdown turned out to be a picture of contrasts with Writers' Buildings, the state secretariat and seat of power of the communists, witnessing very thin attendance, including of ministers, while the IT sector in Salt Lake buzzed with activity.

'The bandh did not impact the IT sector and work was normal in industrial zones of Barrackpore and Durgapur,' said State Industry Minister Nirupam Sen.

Even several ministers of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led government were notable absentees, while the IT sector employees braved all odds to turn up in large numbers.

A woman was injured in Kolkata, near Mominpur area in south west Kolkata, when Trinamool Congress activists threw stones on a bus.

The Trinamool damaged buses in other parts of the city, including one on Canning Street, while Congress supporters who blocked Howrah Bridge were baton-charged by police and 25 of them arrested. Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee took to the streets in full force in Gariahata area of south Kolkata.

'Buddha Biman Dole, Punjipotir Kole' (Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Biman Bose rock in the lap of the capitalists), shouted the veteran trade union leader.

Mukherjee, a former city mayor, was seen going all out to support Mamata. He had earlier switched over to his old outfit Congress from Trinamool Congress after a tiff with Mamata Banerjee.

'The bandh is successful. Our agitation will continue,' said Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra.

In Singur, the Hooghly district area in the eye of the storm, the bandh was total.

However, the CPI-M differed. 'The bandh by opposition is called either on Friday or Monday so that people can extend their holiday and claim success,' said Biman Bose, CPI-M state secretary.

Train services were disrupted since morning with the bandh supporters blocking railway tracks in various places, especially in Howrah, and a few private buses and vehicles plied on the roads. Flight services were, however, not hit.

Over 70 people have been arrested in Kolkata, police officials said.

The city's metro railway remained unaffected by the bandh, but the passenger traffic was minimal, a Metro official said.

Schools and colleges were shut and government offices reported thin attendance. Though state-run buses plied there were not too many passengers.

City police joined their counterparts in adjoining North and South 24-Parganas districts to ensure that Sector V IT sector is not affected by the shutdown.

A cell has been set up at Bidhannagar (North) police station exclusively to help IT professionals impeded by the shutdown.

Air traffic went on according to schedu

Copyright : Indo-Asian News Service
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