The agitation by bandh supporters at Maidan Metro station on Tuesday.
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Kolkata: In a first in Kolkata Metro Railway’s 34-year history, a group of political activists today managed to disrupt the train services for a while as part of the nationwide strike by several Left and Congress trade unions.

Metro Railway staff, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and, Kolkata Police personnel were taken aback by the move that was “unthinkable” until today afternoon.

Around 3 pm, a group of 10-15 members of the Congress trade union, INTUC, entered the underground Maidan Metro station in central Kolkata in the guise of passengers.

Once on the platform, they took out Congress and INTUC flags from their pockets and started shouting slogans in favour of the 48-hour strike called against the alleged anti-people policies of the BJP-led Central government.

At that moment, a Dum Dum-bound non-air-conditioned Metro train entered Maidan station.

Some of the INTUC agitators at once got into the driver’s cabin and stopped the train from departing after the scheduled 20 seconds halt.

RPF and Kolkata Police personnel had no clue to this and hence, for about five minutes the INTUC agitators got a free hand. They went on shouting slogans on the platform even as the train remained stranded.

It was then that a few RPF and Kolkata Police personnel rushed in and forced out the agitators from the driver cabin. Subsequently, a larger team of policemen arrived and arrested away the agitators who had sat on the platform floor by then.

Metro commuters were visibly surprised at the turn of events as even during the heydays of Left rule, Metro services were never disrupted by bandh picketers.

This has happened on a day several parts of Bengal saw a mixed response to the bandh that began at 6 this morning.

The day one was marked by sporadic violence and clashes between picketers and police / Trinamool cadres.

In Kolkata, the impact was minimal but the number of people on the streets and markets was less than a regular day. In Siliguri, although transport services were almost normal, businesses preferred to keep their shutters down.

Members of Left trade unions vandalised buses and resorted to rail blockades in different parts of the state by throwing banana leaves on overhead wires and sit-on railway tracks.

The most affected were Howrah and Sealdah railway divisions that faced obstructions in phases throughout the first half of the day. The obstructions were fully cleared only in the early afternoon.

At places like Barasat, Malda, Dinhata, etc, CITU activists deflated tyres of vehicles that took to the streets defying the strike. At Jadavpur 8B Bus Stand in south Kolkata, police and the picketers scuffled.

Police arrested away CITU state secretary Anadi Sahu and, CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty to Lalbazar for trying to enforce the bandh. They were released in the evening.

At Alipurduar in north Bengal, CPI-M workers thrashed away Trinamool cadres after the latter attacked a pro-bandh rally. Left Front chairman, Biman Bose, has said that the bandh will be more effective on Wednesday.