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The state of India's democracy
December 01, 2006
Visitors look at damage to the West Bengal Assembly in Kolkata, December 1, after Trinamool Congress Party members went on the rampage November 30.
TMC activists called a strike in West Bengal to protest a government decision to hand over farmland to Indian carmaker Tata Motors to build a plant where production is due to begin next year. A few thousand Trinamool supporters took to the streets and tried to block traffic and shut down shops. Around 200 political workers were arrested for stopping traffic.
Thousands of people including school children queued up to have a glimpse of the vandalised West Bengal assembly as the House chamber was thrown open to the public for the first time to enable the public to see the damage caused during the rampage.
Despite a 12-hour bandh called by the Trinamool Congress, thousands queued up at the main gate of the assembly as security staff let them in after thorough checks. Broken furniture, wrenched microphones, torn business papers, ransacked records and rule books lay strewn all over the House chamber and the lobby -- which were encircled by ropes -- highlighting the vandalisation of the premises during Thursday's session.
Police, accompanied by Marshals and watch and ward staff, guided the public to move around and see the damage caused by Trinamool Congress legislators after party chief Mamata Banerjee stormed into the premises after she was stopped by police from going to Singur to campaign against the Tata Motors' project there.
Assembly sources said the House would be kept open for the public from 10 am to 4 pm for three days. The assembly is a protected place and only those with passes can enter the House to witness proceedings from the public gallery with the Speaker's permission.
Photograph: Deshkalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images