Kolkata Normal life was badly hit in West Bengal by a general strike called by Left backed trade unions.
Train and flight services were disrupted. For those who could afford to stay at home and blame it on disrupted traffic, it was a holiday. But not so for a twelve-year-old boy who had to miss his treatment for brain tumour due to the strike.
The boy, Swapan Biswas was but one of hundreds of people hit by the total bandh.
“My son has brain tumour. Today is Bengal bandh, and we are stuck at the station. He is in excruciating pain and has to be taken to Bangalore for treatment,” said Biswas’ mother, helplessly.
Vinay Mishra, an IT professional, is another disillusioned person after the strike. He had shifted to Kolkata seven years ago, thinking the changing work culture in the city would curb such strikes... But now he feels differently.
"I've worked in Delhi, Bhopal and in Lucknow too amongst other places. But Kolkata is very different, especially during the days of bandh, I've never experienced such situations in other cities,” he said in frustration.
Nearly 70 percent of offices in the IT sector remained shut. Flight services were suspended as Airports Authority unions were also a part of the strike. City of joy was paralysed.
But the Centre of Indian Trade (CITU) justifies the strike call.
Shyamal Chakraborty, a leader of CITU who believes everyone benefited by the bandh as all have a stake in the industries said, “You please tell (name) one section of people who do not represent any industry. You tell me!"
Some feel that CITU’s claim that the Bengal government and CPM's hard line labour wing are birds of the same feather is a fact well known.
Yet, for a state which is treading the uncertain path of industrialization, today's shut down only reaffirmed the industry's apprehension that a lot remains to be changed before Chief Minister Buddhababu's ambitious plans are realized.
(With inputs from Sukarno Sen, Sulakshana Mukherjee and Sougata Mukhopadhyay)