12-hour strike called by Left-Congress alliance underway in West Bengal; protestors block roads

Members of Left Parties and the allied Congress are observing a 12 hour strike in West Bengal on Friday. In effect from 6 am to 6 pm, the bandh has been called in response an incident on Thursday, while Left party members were marching to the State Secretariat near Kolkata.

Party workers were allegedly beaten up and water cannons used against them by the police. As reported earlier by The Free Press Journal's Aritra Singha, the clashes had also led to some of the agitating Left Front student wing members being admitted to SSKM and Kolkata Medical College hospitals.

The West Bengal administration has not taken kindly to the call for a 12 hour bandh, insisting that all state government offices remain open and functional.

"No casual leave for absence or any leave shall be granted to any employee nor shall there be any exemption on ground of shift allocation," the government had reportedly said.

Visuals from Friday morning show the protestors on roads, congregating with flags and other paraphernalia. Photos shared by news agency ANI show members of Left parties and the Congress blocking roads in North 24 Parganas district's Barasat and Ashoknagar area and in Kolkata near Sukanta Setu.

While transportation services have been mostly unaffected by the strike, normal life has certainly been affected. Beyond the many road blockades, workers have also joined the protests in some areas.

As per a post shared by the CPI(M) Twitter handle, transportation workers in Bankura have also joined the bandh. The party handle shared pictures of empty buses standing at Govindnagar Bus Stand in the area. According to reports, the streets of Siliguri have remained deserted today, while other areas are seeing a shutdown of sorts.

"Despite State govt’s efforts to prevent, tens of thousands of youth and students marched peacefully in Kolkata demanding jobs and education for all. Unprecedented lathi charge, badly injuring around 200 could not stop Bengal youth from rising against the BJP and TMC policies," tweeted CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury on Thursday.

Now, the party's Twitter handle is sharing glimpses from the ongoing strike - be it road blockades at Paskura or a shutdown at Daspur.

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