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West Bengal shuts down over Tata car project (NIGHT LEAD)

Kolkata, Oct 9 (IANS) West Bengal lived up to its image of political unrest as a 12-hour shutdown Monday by the Trinamool Congress to protest forcible acquisition of farmlands in Singur for a Tata Motors car plant evoked near total response in the state barring the IT and industrial sector.

Monday, October 9, 2006 | 8:33:08 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Kolkata, Oct 9 (IANS) West Bengal lived up to its image of political unrest as a 12-hour shutdown Monday by the Trinamool Congress to protest forcible acquisition of farmlands in Singur for a Tata Motors car plant evoked near total response in the state barring the IT and industrial sector.

In a day marked by sporadic but low-scale violence, more than 4,000 activists were taken into custody across the state during the 12-hour shutdown, which saw Congress supporters joining in large numbers in a show of solidarity along with other opposition parties like Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI).

'About 4,000 people were detained for obstructions,' Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said.

Police said about 100 were arrested in Kolkata area.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said the shutdown was a total failure and the car project would be set up on the same site in Singur.

'Going by the response of the bandh I can say the project will come up in Singur very soon,' he said.

The shutdown was peaceful but not without stray incidents of clashes and violence.

A woman was injured in Kolkata, near Mominpur area in southwest 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.

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. It failed to impact in north Bengal tea garden areas,' 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.

The shutdown also brought Trinamool Congress and Congress together.

'Buddha Biman dole, punjipotir kole' (Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Biman Bose rock in the lap of the capitalists), shouted veteran trade union leader and Congress stalwart Subrata Mukherjee.

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

'The bandh is successful. Our agitation will continue,' said Trinamool Congress leader and former minister Ajit Panja.

In Singur, the Hooghly district area in the eye of the storm, the shutdown was total though distribution of cheques for the farmers willing to hand over their land continued.

Trinamool will observe a Lajja Divas (disgrace day) in Singur Oct 15.

The CPI-M refuted the shutdown was spontaneous and successful.

Copyright : Indo-Asian News Service
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