AGARTALA, May 18 (IANS): Normal life was severely affected in Left-ruled Tripura on Thursday due to a 24-hour shutdown called by the opposition Congress in support of its 12-point charter of demands, including CBI probe in chit fund activities.
"Most shops and markets were closed and attendance in the government offices and banks was low across the state. Most schools, educational institutions, banks and financial institutions were also closed," a senior police official said.
Most vehicles except those with the security forces and emergency services remained off the roads.
Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) cancelled all to-and-fro trains connecting the border state with other parts of the country.
"The weekly Tripura Sundari Express train running between Agartala and New Delhi has been rescheduled from Thursday to Friday morning," an NFR spokesman said.
However, Air India and other private operators operated their flights on Agartala-Kolkata-Guwahati-New Delhi routes.
Police said that no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state.
"Around 500 picketers were arrested from across the state for picketing in front of the government offices and other important locations," Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) K.V. Sreejesh told IANS.
Besides Tripura Congress President Birajit Sinha, other important leaders arrested on Thursday for picketing included Congress Legislature Party leader Gopal Roy, state Congress Vice President Pijush Biswas, state Youth Congress President Sushanta Chakraborty, former legislator Tapas De, and former Minister and veteran woman Congress leader Laxmi Nag.
All India Congress Committee Secretary Bhupen Bora also joined the picketing in Agartala.
State Congress chief Sinha later told reporters that the 24-hour strike was total and successful and over 2,000 Congress activists have courted arrest.
"If the Left Front government does not concede our demands, we would intensify our agitation and the Left parties would be voted out in next year's assembly elections," the state Congress chief said.
Besides the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the chit fund activities, the Congress has demanded unemployment allowance to all unemployed youths by the state government and appropriate settlement of all 10,323 government teachers who are facing axe due to a Supreme Court verdict.
The Congress also demanded implementation of 7th Pay Commission recommendations for employees and pensioners of the Tripura government.
All the three universities, including the lone central university, and colleges in the state have postponed Thursday's examinations in view of the shutdown.