The life of nearly 80-million people of the Indian province of West Bengal was brought to a standstill yesterday (Tuesday, 8 December) as a result of a general strike called by the fourteen political parties of the now defunct United Front.
SV & CU Youths in leftist demonstration with banners (2 shots)
SV Demonstrators pass troops in lorry
SV Troops out of lorry
STV Pan demonstrators wearing tricolour Indian Congress flags
GV Groups of demonstrators go in opposite directions - pass each other in street
GV & LVs streets deserted during strike
CUs cows in street
SV Police stand in deserted street, pedestrians crossing (2 shots)
GV Empty railway lines
GV Pan from Howrah Bridge to trains in railway station
Initials PBS/MR/OS/2203 PBS/MR/OS/2223
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Background: The life of nearly 80-million people of the Indian province of West Bengal was brought to a standstill yesterday (Tuesday, 8 December) as a result of a general strike called by the fourteen political parties of the now defunct United Front. The strike call came in response to the re-imposition of the West Bengal Violence Act, which give police and security forces widespread powers in dealing with violence and maintaining law and order.
Almost every normal activity ceased during the twenty four hour stoppage. All transport halted, including the closure of Calcutta's international airport; all shops were shuttered, and many strikers took to the streets to demonstrate.
Hundreds of police were mobilised to prevent violence. Five people were killed and several injured in violence preceding the strike.
West Bengal is now under presidential rule. The new powers given to police and security forces are based on similar powers given to security forces during British rule.
The West Bengal governor has said the measures were introduced to deal with extreme left wing elements whom, West Bengal authorities allege, have been creating situations of violence.