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West Bengal strike partial; industry angry

By M Chhaya in Kolkata
January 27, 2003 12:42 IST
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The one-day strike called by the Socialist Unity Centre of India to protest against rising medical costs and hike in power tariff and tuition fees has evoked a partial response in West Bengal.

The strike has affected life in at least four of the 19 districts. The industry has condemned the strike, which causes a loss of Rs3 billion per day. The strike has also forced an important IT fair to remain shut for the day.

"These strikes will not do any good to the state. While the government tries to woo investors... these shutdowns scare them away. This has to stop if the state wants to industrialise," said Najeeb Arif of the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Train service to southern West Bengal, mainly on the Laxmikantapur section, remained paralysed. Strikers also blocked tracks in Ranaghat in Nadia.

Vehicular traffic was normal in Kolkata, but the number of passengers was less. The city's underground and suburban train services were normal. Flights also operated on time. Most shops and businesses were open in the city.

Police have arrested about 250 protestors from different parts of the state. Though there are no reports of violence, tension prevailed in Midnapore [west] district, where strike supporters clashed with rivals.

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M Chhaya in Kolkata
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