East and Northeast
BJP's north Bengal bandh call against MLA's death evokes mixed response
BJP supporters clashed with police and pelted stones at buses during a 12-hour bandh called by the party in north Bengal on Tuesday over the unnatural death of a party MLA.
The bandh that started at 6 am evoked a mixed response with shops remaining closed in some places and lesser number of public transport vehicles on the roads.
The body of Hemtabad MLA Debendra Nath Ray was found hanging from the ceiling of a verandah outside a shuttered shop near his home in Bindal village in North Dinajpur district on Monday.
West Bengal police said a suicide note was found from his shirt pocket where he blamed two people for his death. Ray's family and the BJP, however, claimed he was murdered and demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.
While trying to implement the bandh, BJP supporters clashed with the police in Coochbehar town during their attempt to prevent buses from leaving a North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) depot.
Window panes of a couple of buses, including one that plies on the Coochbehar-Mathabhanga route, were damaged allegedly by the bandh supporters, officials said.
The agitators, led by BJP's Coochbehar district president Malati Rava were removed by the police, following which the buses moved out of the depot, they said.
In Siliguri, north Bengal's largest city, government bus services were near normal, but private buses were fewer in number.
Shops and markets in some places were closed, although, with the rising number of Covid-19 cases, some areas of the city have been declared containment zones and are already under lockdown.
People were seen visiting the markets that were open.
The bandh evoked mixed response in Malda and North Dinajpur district. Several bandh supporters were seen picketing on roads and raising slogans demanding an "impartial investigation" into the legislator's death.
Ray had won the Hemtabad (reserved) seat on a CPI-M ticket in 2016 but later joined the BJP. He had, however, not quit his assembly seat.