Left Front-sponsored bandh disrupts life

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Kolkata, Jun 5 (UNI) The 12-hour West Bengal bandh, called by the ruling Left Front in protest against the fuel price hike, began this morning crippling normal life.

Official sources said no untoward incident had been reported from any part of the state so far.

All private and government vehicles went off the road. Train services virtually remained suspended while all flights from the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport had been cancelled till 1800 hrs as a result of the bandh.

National carrier Air India (AI) cancelled at least ten flights, including that of Alliance Air.

Only three AI flights to Port Blair, Silchar and Guwahati departed before 0600 hrs, an AI spokesperson told UNI, giving low passenger turnout and staff shortage as the main reasons for the cancellation.

Shop owners kept shutters down, markets were closed, banks and other financial institutions did not function while most of the government and private offices reported very thin attendance.

All educational institutions also remained closed as different universities cancelled graduation and post-graduation examinations scheduled for the day.

The bandh had a telling impact on the industry as few workers turned up for duty in the industrial areas while work in the tea gardens in North Bengal was also affected.

Railway sources said no long distance trains started from Howrah station so far while 14 pairs of local trains had been cancelled.

In the Sealdah section of Eastern Railway, all trains were cancelled.

Heavy security arrangement had been made in the state to tackle any breach of the law and order situation.

Left Front Chairman Biman Basu declared the bandh yesterday, blaming the UPA government for taking 'anti-people' measure.

Mr Basu said the decision had been taken after the Centre turned down the repeated requests of the Left parties to adopt an alternative policy to neutralise the effect of the price hike of petroleum products in the international market.

The Opposition Trinamool Congress also gave a separate call for a dawn-to-dusk shutdown tomorrow in protest against the price hike.

Demanding complete rollback of the increased prices, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said the Centre's decision, with all the cascading effects, would put a heavy burden on the poor.

UNI KDG DPM SW DB1219

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