Mamata Banerjee Runs Buses But Commuters Stay Off Roads For Bengal Shutdown

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Shops shut in Kolkata for a strike called by Left and BJP against poll violence


Kolkata:  Many professionals in Kolkata spent a night in office in anticipation of trouble during a daylong strike called today by the Left and the BJP to protest against violence in the recent civic polls.

Clashes have been reported between the police and Left activists in parts of Bengal. Protests on railway tracks have delayed at least half a dozen trains.

The state government has made elaborate arrangements to foil the strike.

"There will be no bandh tomorrow in Bengal. No bandh in Kolkata, no bandh in the districts," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared at a rally yesterday, promising to compensate people if their shop is attacked. The government has ordered its employees to come to work or risk losing a day's pay.

In Kolkata, where strikes usually leave people struggling to travel, many government buses are on the road but hardly any passengers.

"Rise & shine.The easy thing to do Bengal/Kolkata is to stay at home.Make that extra effort and step out," tweeted Derek O'Brien, a lawmaker of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Worried IT professionals at Salt Lake in Kolkata didn't want to take a chance, so they stayed in office on Wednesday night.

The strike - called separately by the CPM, the BJP and central trade unions coincides with university exams. The striking unions say students will not be stopped if they want to sit for exams.

College authorities have said that if students are unable to take the exams, they will consider holding them again.

"We will possibly have to leave quite early, so we can find some transport... lot of students are confused, nervous but let's see," Rohan Pariyar, who has to sit for his environmental sciences exam.


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