The Bharat Bandh led by the Left Front and Congress approved trade unions saw mixed effects in North Bengal. Many places were affected since morning, while some places remained normal. The bandh supporters’ rallies obstructed trains and buses, blocked roads, in many places. Nonetheless, the strike was mostly peaceful amidst sporadic incidents.
The strike had a mixed response in North Bengal’s Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, and Malda.
Jalpaiguri: The bandh supporters stopped the Katihar Siliguri-Intercity Express at Naxalbari station. After about 15 minutes the train was allowed to proceed towards Siliguri. In Jalpaiguri, some shops were open while some remained closed. Private buses were not seen on the traffic while the Government buses were operational. Passengers were somewhat less as compared to other days. Police forces are deployed throughout the district in view of the bandh.
Cooch Behar: The widespread impact of the strike was seen in Cooch Behar too. Since morning, government buses were plying on the roads under the supervision of the police force. Keeping safety in mind, the NBSTC management made it mandatory for drivers to wear a helmet while driving the vehicles. A rally was held in support of the bandh. Within the Harishpur and Suniti Road areas of the city, the bandh supporters tried to stop many government buses and vehicles. On receiving the news, IC Soumajit Roy of Kotwali police station and DSP Sameer Pal reached the spot with the police force. During the course, a dispute broke out between the police and the bandh supporters. On the other hand, police had to intervene a scuffle which broke out after some bandh supporters stopped a bus during a rally at Kachari More area, Later, the police resorted to lathi-charge. Shops, markets remained closed.
Dooars: Demonstrations were carried out by supporters at Dooars’ Caron and Banarhat railway stations. In Dhupguri, the protesters stopped government buses and staged a protest. Police reached the spot and asked the motorists to drive the bus. Buses were also stopped on Highway 31. There was not much impact of the bandh on the tea gardens of the Dooars.
Alipurduar: The bandh had similar effect in Alipurduar. The bus drivers were driving the bus wearing helmets. Shops were closed in the district’s Kalchini, Hamiltonganj area, with fewer vehicles on the road. At the same time, the bandh had partial effect in Hasimara, Dalsingpara and Jaigaon areas. The bandh supporters stalled at various places.
Malda: There was widespread tension over the strike in Malda. Within the Sujapur area under Kaliachak police station of Malda, in addition to the blockade, the supporters of the protest vandalized and set many vehicles on fire. To control the situation, the police police resorted to lathi-charge. The situation was brought under control after hours of hard work.
North Dinajpur: Rallies were held and demonstrations by Left and Congress workers at Islampur and Raiganj in North Dinajpur district. On the Chowringhee More of Islampur, the Left blocked the National Highway 31. However, the police later reached and took control of the situation. Shops, banks, ATMs, petrol pumps and others remained closed in most market areas of the district. Allegations of breaking the glass of a private bus window also surfaced. At the same time, some SUCI supporters were detained on the charge of forcibly closing National Highway 34 in Raiganj.
South Dinajpur: Government buses also operated in South Dinajpur district, but the private vehicles were very scares. Shops, markets also remained closed.