Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused the CPI(M)-led Left Front of earning “cheap publicity” by calling frequent bandhs after the state witnessed sporadic violence during the nationwide strike against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
Denouncing the violence, she also suggested that a “political death” is a “better” option for the Left than “cheap publicity”. The Trinamul Congress supremo called the CPI(M) in Kerala “far better” than the Marxists in Bengal.
“Bandh by force would not happen in Bengal. It was not allowed before and it will not be allowed today. They find themselves getting rejected in every bandh,” she said at Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas.
Ms Banerjee further noted, “They call four bandhs a year. I do not know why they do it. They think calling a bandh and hurling bombs at buses would give them cheap publicity. Political death is better than such publicity. Stop hooliganism in a movement’s name. Kerala CPI(M) is far better than them. They still maintain an ideology.”
She claimed, “Our movement against the CAA, NRC and NPR will continue. Despite being in the government, we are protesting against it peacefully. This requires guts. They are fishing in troubled waters in the name of bandh and instructions. They are either beating bikers or targeting bus passengers.”
The Trinamul chief alleged, “Stones are pelted and sticks are used. It is Dadagiri, not a movement. I condemn it. They should keep the Indian economy in mind irrespective of whether they are in power or not. People’s income has reduced due to economic slowdown in the country. They should have helped the common people instead. Why do they harm the country this way?”
Daring the CPI(M) to protest and engage in violence in other parts of the country, including the national capital, the TMC supremo claimed that the Left party is jealous of the development programmes undertaken by her government since 2011.
Hitting back at Ms Banerjee, CPI(M) Politburo member Mohammed Salim blamed her for provoking violence though her party cadres and police.
To justify his attack, he referred to a video, showing some cops and civic volunteers allegedly vandalising vehicles parked at a ground at Sujapur in Malda in broad daylight.
“None of the bandh supporters was involved in violence anywhere. It was the Trinamul chief who instigated the violence. Some cops aided by the ruling party workers tried to appease her by triggering the violence. But her statement standing on a helipad proved that she is far away from the state,” he reasoned while describing the bandh successful against the Trinamul chief’s dichotomy.
Incidents of violence and arson were reported from various parts of West Bengal with buses, vehicles and government properties being vandalised by groups of people who tried to enforce the 24-hour trade union strike on Wednesday.
Strikers use force in West Bengal
Incidents of violence and arson were reported from various parts of West Bengal with buses, a police vehicle and government properties vandalised by strikers who tried to enforce the 24-hour bandh on Wednesday.
Scenes of muscle-flexing by the bandh supporters prevailed in Kolkata and the districts as roads wore a deserted look with the absence of buses, cars and taxis in many parts of the state. The Congress workers were seen directing the shopkeepers to shut down their outlets during a rally in Burrabazar of central parts of the city.
At Hazra crossing in south Kolkata near chief minister Mamata Banerjee's residence, a tea-stall owner working in his outlet wearing a helmet.
In Jadavpur, CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty was arrested alongwith other bandh supporters by the police after they pelted stones on a police vehicle during a protest rally that turned into a road blockade. The attendance at the state government offices turned out to be adequate however.
In the morning three crude bombs found lying in a packet on the railway tracks under a coach of Duttapukur Local train at Hridoypur station Barasat in North 24 Parganas during a railway blockade. The police took away the packet soon.
Dozens of trains were cancelled although flight operations remained normal at the Kolkata Airport.
As many as 155 EMU trains were cancelled over the Sealdah division alone, followed by 49 EMU trains over Howrah Division of the Eastern Railway due to obstructions by the bandh supporters at various stations. In the South Eastern Railway, 15 EMU locals were cancelled while 11 Mail/Express trains were detained at various stations enroute. Many others were also detained at different stations in Howrah-Kharagpur section.