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Normal life was disrupted, with air and road traffic severely hit, in most parts of West Bengal Tuesday due to a one-day nationwide shutdown called by nine major trade unions, including those of the Left and the Congress.

The strike was called to protest against price rise, violation of labour laws and privatisation.

More than 100 flights run by private airlines to and from Kolkata were cancelled in advance. However, 10 flights of state-run Air India took off from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (NSCB) International Airport.

‘We have decided to operate all flights, though we have cancelled the Kolkata-Kathmandu flight and combined some domestic flights. All 10 flights we operated in the morning from the airport, including one in the Kolkata-Dhaka-Bangkok international sector, were full,’ an Air India spokesman told IANS.

Two other Air India flights also landed in the morning, he said.

There were no reports of any untoward incidents, police said.

The city, which bustles with activity on normal weekdays, saw empty roads as vehicles did not venture outdoor while the strike was total in industrial areas like Taratala.

Government and private buses did not ply and most people chose to remain indoors either fearing chaos on the roads or deciding to enjoy an unscheduled holiday with their families.

Banks, other offices and commercial establishments remained closed, while shops and markets did not open. Many schools, though unofficially, asked students not to come Tuesday to save them from any inconvenience on the roads.

The strike paralysed the industrial belt on both sides of the Hooghly river in Hooghly, Howrah and North 24 Parganas districts, with workers seen picketing before factories.

Railway and Metro Railway services remained normal as they were kept outside the purview of the strike, though only a handful of commuters availed of these modes of transport.

The minority dominated areas of the state were also exempted from the strike as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is on, but most shops and markets in these belts also remained closed as traders from other areas could not reach their workplace due to transport problems.

The strike was called by the Coordination Committee of the Central Trade Unions headed by Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) president G. Sanjeeva Reddy.


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