Left trade unions-sponsored strike paralyses life in Bengal

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Kolkata, Aug 20 (UNI) Life froze in West Bengal today as the 24-hour rptg 24-hour nationwide general strike, called by Left trade unions, left an all pervading impact.

Shutters of the shops were down, all vehicles went off the road, air traffic was severely disrupted while train services remained paralysed. The shutdown also forced educational institutions to remain closed while banks and other offices did not function and business and industry were crippled throughout the state.

''The strike has an all pervading effect. But so far, we have not received reports of any untoward incident,'' Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told UNI.

The strike has been called by the sponsoring committee of seven Left trade unions, including CITU and AITUC, in protest against the price rise, widening economic disparity, falling real wages and mass-scale violation of the labour laws, rising unemployment and increasing atrocities on labourers.

About 40 employees federations are also participating in the strike.

Authorities of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport said all the flights were cancelled during the day and no flights from Delhi landed at the airport.

'' We have informed passengers earlier so that they don't have to face any trouble,''Airport Director V K Monga told reporters.

Ground handling operations at the airport were also affected as employees of the Airports Authority of India joined the strike protesting privatisation of airports and demanding rationalisation of employees' pay scales.

A railway spokesman said all the long distance trains from Howrah were cancelled for the day while Jagannath Express, Howrah-Mumbai Mail, Guwahati-Bangalore Express, Down Danapur Express, Amritsar Express, Purbanchal Express, Saraighat Express and North-East Express remained detained at different stations.

Suburban train services in both Howrah and Sealdah divisions also remained suspended.

Official sources said virtually no work was carried out in the industrial belts of Howrah, Hooghly, Bardhaman and Asansol while workers did not turn up for duty in the collieries and in the tea gardens of North Bengal.

All the banks and other financial institutions remained closed while attendance in the Government and private establishements was almost nil.

Even the Information Technology sector in the sector five of Salt Lake was badly hit while supporters of the strike staged picketing outside metro stations to force shutdown in the underground railway services.


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