Kolkata, Oct 31 (UNI) Life was disrupted and rival political parties' rhetoric took a feverish pitch as the Trinamool Congress observed a 12-hour bandh in West Bengal today demanding restoration of 'rule of law' in Nandigram.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee claimed that the bandh was a success reflecting the people's protest against ''state-sponsored terrorism'', while the CITU, the labour front of the CPI(M), described it as a failure.
Ms Banerjee said, ''I express my gratitude towards the people for spontaneously supporting the bandh and showing their solidarity against the state sponsored terrorism in Nandigram and Khejuri. '' ''Even after ten months of the Nandigram protest, CPI(M) goons with active support of the police and administration are continuing a reign of terror in the region. The Chief Minister has admitted that he can't control the anarchy that reigns in Nandigram and has sought the Central forces, '' she said.
''He (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) should step down owning moral responsibility and if he does not, he should be constitutionally sacked for complete breakdown of democracy in the state. We take a constitutional oath to protect democracy and not promote autocracy.
It should be a rule of ballots and not bullets, '' she stated.
Meanwhile, Left Front Chairman Biman Basu said, '' The people of Bengal will decide whether the bandh was successful or not. All the tea gardens from North Bengal to the plains were open. All the jute mills, except the Budge Budge jute mill functioned like other day and early variety harvesting went about in the rural Bengal. '' ''In the city 775 government buses plyed and 127 trams also kept them company. The Bandh call got no response in the sub-urban areas,'' he said.
He further alleged that Trinamool's crying for Nandigram was crocodile tears. ''If they are so sympathetic towards the people of Nandigram why have they been a block in the path of its progress.
Rs eight crore earmarked for the region's progress has been unused, medical facility have also broken down, '' he added.
Most vehicles, including private buses and taxis, were off the roads while train services were seriously affected and shops, markets and educational institutions remained closed.
Even though the city's underground trains ran as usual and a few state run buses and trams rolled on to the streets, work was seriously hampered in most of the governnment and private offices, banks and business establishments.
International trade with Bangladesh through the Petrapol corridor in North 24 Parganas was affected. Bandh supporters had stalled the goods carrying trucks.
Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said minor incidents of clashes between bandh supporters and their opponents had been reported from north Kolkata, Coochbehar, Balurghat and Bardhaman while police arrested about 700 people throughout the state for obstructing road and railway tracks.
''Private transport services have been disrupted in the districts as well as the city because of road and railway track blockades. As a result, attendance is low in Government offices, '' he told reporters.
However, normal air services were reported from NSCB international airport while attendance was near normal in factories, tea gardens and coal mines.
''I hope that the people's response to the bandh will give a lesson to the state Government prompting it to call back the CPI(M) goons who have unleashed a reign of terror in Nandigram and stop the killing spree,'' Ms Banerjee told reporters.
Alleging that total lawlessness was prevailing in Nandigram precipitating a 'constitutional crisis', she reiterated that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee resign owning responsibility for the situation.
''If not, he should be sacked constitutionally for a complete breakdown of the democratic system,'' she said.
She also alleged that CPI(M) cadres and police attacked Trinamool Congress supporters in different places during the bandh period.
EDS: Pickup suitably from earlier series.