Congress calls Bengal shutdown Friday to protest attack on legislators


Kolkata : The West Bengal Pradesh Congress called a 12-hour statewide shutdown Friday as one party supporter died and angry activists torched buses and obstructed rail and road traffic Thursday in protest against the attack on their legislators in Mongalkote in Burdwan district Wednesday.

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Slogan shouting Congress supporters took to the streets from Thursday morning and put up blockades at almost all the major intersections of the state disrupting public life, a day after eight party legislators sustained injuries in alleged attacks by armed Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cadres in Dhanyarukhi village.

While two buses were torched in the south Kolkata areas of Minto Park and Gariahat, two others buses were set ablaze in Howrah district and one each in North 24 Parganas and Murshidabad districts. Several other state-run buses and taxis were damaged as Congress workers went on rampage with sticks, rods and bricks.

“They (Congress workers) obstructed all major road junctions across the state for sometime,” said a police officer.

Suburban and long distance train services of eastern and southeastern railways were affected as trains got delayed with Congress activists blocking railway tracks.

Around afternoon, the pradesh Congress committee held an emergency meeting, and decided to call a 12-hour statewide shutdown against the “murderous assault” on its legislators.

“What happened Wednesday was nothing short of medieval barbarism. We demand the suspension of the police superintendent and district magistrate of Burdwan and restoration of democracy. We have decided to call a shutdown from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday,” state party working president Subrata Mukherje told reporters here.

The Congress has also urged the Trinamool Congress to support the shutdown. Earlier, Congress legislature party leader Manas Bhuniya told reporters that a 12-hour shutdown had been called in 12 of the 19 districts of the state Friday.

“The shutdown call has been given by our district units spontaneously,” Bhuniya said.

The party claimed that one its supporters had died and five others injured in clashes with the police during a 12-hour shutdown Thursday in the affected Mongolkote block.

However, police and family members of the victim said he died of cardiac arrest.

Burdwan district police superintendent Raja Ram Sekharan said six police vehicles were set afire by the agitators, who tried to block the way of the policemen near Burmud village. “To disperse them we had to burst tear gas shells and resort to a baton charge”.

Eight Congress legislators of West Bengal were injured Wednesday when they were allegedly attacked by armed Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cadres in a village.

A 14-member Congress delegation led by Bhuniya had entered Dhanyarukhi village in Burdwan district around 3.10 p.m. for distributing relief to party supporters whose houses have been burnt after the murder of CPI-M district committee member Falguni Mukherjee when the attack took place.

Seven scribes who had gone to the spot to cover the delegation’s visit were also injured as they were allegedly beaten up by CPI-M cadres and hit by bricks. Five of the scribes had to be rushed to hospital.

The area has seen trouble since Mukherjee was shot dead from point blank range by miscreants June 16.

The CPI-M alleged the attackers had links with the Trinamool Congress, but the opposition party has maintained that the killing was a result of a factional feud in the ruling party.

After the murder, several opposition leaders including leader of opposition in the assembly Partha Chattopadhyay have faced the wrath of CPI-M cadres whenever they tried to go to the area.

A large number of political clashes have occurred in the state ever since the Lok Sabha elections.