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Mixed response to general strike in Bengal

Mamata Banerjee 220160902130833_l

Kolkata, Sep 2 (IANS) Train and flight services were unaffected, vehicles plied on the streets but fewer people ventured out as the general strike called by the central trade unions on Friday evoked a mixed response in West Bengal.

All flights leaving and reaching the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport were on schedule, while an Eastern Railway spokesman said train movement continued normally.

In Kolkata, most buses and mini-buses plied, but they were largely empty as many people chose to stay at home. Taxis and auto-rickshaws also ventured on the roads.

Attendance was normal in the state government departments, with a large number of employees choosing to spend the night in office on Thursday, fearing dislocation of traffic.

There was tension in a number of areas of the state, as the strike supporters staged rallies.

In some places, the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Left members came face to face, and the police had to step in to prevent clashes.

Communist Party of India-Marxist legislator Ashok Bhattacharya and 30 other supporters of the general strike were arrested at Siliguri in Darjeeling district, while 52 others were taken into custody from Kandi in Murshidabad district.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who left for Italy earlier in the day to attend the canonisation ceremony of Mother Teresa at the Vatican,, said the strike would be a failure.

However, Centre of Indian Trade Unions state president Shyamal Charaborty, who led a rally in South Kolkata, claimed the strike was "completely successful".

"They have forcibly run some buses, but 90 per cent seats are vacant. The organised gangs of goons tried to capture the roads. There was widespread vandalism to thwart the strike," said Chakraborty.

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