Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bandh hits normal life in Bengal

Our Bureau

Flights unaffected; all-party meeting held

BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL: Traders at the Howrah Hut wholesale market in
Kolkata on Monday. The Trinamool Congress, Congress and other political
parties had called for bandh on Monday to protest the clashes and
killing of farmers at Nandigram in East Medinipur district of West
Bengal on Sunday. The bandh evoked a mixed response. - A. Roy Chowdhury

Kolkata , Jan. 8

Normal life across West Bengal was affected today following a bandh
called by the Opposition parties to protest against the killings at
Nandigram in East Mednipur district on Sunday.

While the Trinamool Congress, the BJP and the CPI (ML) had given a call
for a 12-hour bandh, the Congress and the Socialist Unity Centre of
India (SUCI) had given a 24-hour bandh call.

A total of 1,983 people were arrested from across the State for trying
to disrupt normal life.

On Sunday , six people died in Nandigram when violence broke out between
farmers and CPI (M) supporters over acquisition of land for a special
economic zone proposed to be set up there by the Salim Group of
Indonesia. West Bengal's Minister for Transport, Mr Subhas Chakraborty,
however, said that 11 people had been killed in Nandigram. The CPI(M)
State Secretary, Mr Biman Bose, said the bandh was "against the interest
of the common man".

Normal attendance

Official sources at Writers' Buildings said normal attendance was
recorded in Kolkata and Haldia ports and in Sector V, the city's IT hub.
Attendance in the tea gardens in North Bengal was also stated to be
normal. Attendance in Government offices in West Bengal was stated to be
50 per cent "on an average". The industrial belt of Howrah wore a
holiday look.

Flight operations to and from Kolkata were normal barring some delays.
However, in the morning an unclaimed bag lying in the domestic lounge of
the NSC Bose International Airport triggered a bomb scare. Sniffer dogs
and bomb disposal squad personnel checked the bag after the area was
cordoned off, but nothing ``objectionable'' was found, airport sources

``There was no apparent threat from the bag and we have deposited it
with the Lost and Found Department of the airport,'' the sources said.
Efforts were being made to trace the owner of the bag. The incident did
not affect normal functioning of the airport.

All-party meeting

An all-party meeting was held at Tamluk in East Mednipur to diffuse the
situation. The State Home Secretary, Mr P.R. Roy, said :``A peace
process has started at Nandigram with an all-party meeting held at
Tamluk near Nandigram and it is expected to yield a positive result.''

``We apprehend that arms and ammunition have been stockpiled at the
villages and we will seize them,'' Mr Roy said.

The overall situation there was reviewed by the Chief Minister, Mr
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, at a meeting with him and the Chief Secretary,
Mr A.K. Deb, at Writers' Buildings, he added.

He said the police could now enter the villages in Nandigram, so far
rendered inaccessible by the villagers who had dug up roads and placed


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