12-hour strike hits life in Tripura

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Agartala, Nov 20: A 12-hour strike called by the Congress to protest alleged police atrocities on the party workers affected normal life in Tripura on Thursday.

Most shops, markets and banks remained shut, while rail and vehicular traffic were disrupted by the strike.

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Tripura Congress working president Ashish Saha said Congress worker Kameswar Sinha, 59, was killed and seven other partymen were injured when the cadres of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist attacked picketers at Damchara, 225 km from here.

Police, however, said Sinha died following a cardiac arrest after participating in the picketing in support of the strike.

The main opposition party called the dawn-to-dusk strike to protest charge by police with batons on party workers during a civil disobedience movement Nov 17.

The civil disobedience stir was organised to demand a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged corruption in many blocks in Tripura.

"Around 200 picketers were arrested in different parts of Tripura when they obstructed office-goers, vehicular movement and other normal works," a police officer said.

He said heavy security arrangements have been made across the state to foil any untoward incident.

"The striking Congress men did not allow officials to enter the civil secretariat, headquarters of the state administration," another police official told reporters.

Most markets, shops and business establishments, educational institutions, banks and financial institutions remained shut in the state. Roads were deserted and rail services in Tripura were also affected.

Presence in government and semi-government offices was very thin.

However, air services on the Agartala-Kolkata and Agartala-Guwahati routes were normal, an Agartala airport official told IANS.

"The 12-hour shutdown largely remained peaceful. Except some stray incidents, no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere so far," Inspector General of Police (police control) Nepal Das told IANS.

According to the police officer, about 15 activists of the Congress and the CPI-M were injured at separate places.

Bus services between Tripura and Bangladesh and other northeastern states were also hit.

"The India-Bangladesh trade was also badly hit as hundreds of trucks were stranded on the other sides of the Akhaurah checkpost near here due to the shutdown," a customs official here said.

Ruling CPI-M opposed the strike, saying the "illogical bandh was called only to show the strength of a section of Congress men led by opposition leader Sudip Roy Barman".

"Congress activists Nov 17 attacked police without any provocation. They are trying to create an unruly situation in Tripura," CPI-M spokesman Gautam Das told reporters.

IANS

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