13:45 GMT +319 January 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Ten major trade unions have called for a nationwide strike on Wednesday against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's “anti-worker” policies. The protests have affected everyday life in states such as West Bengal, with demonstrators blocking highways and railway tracks.

    In the wake of a nationwide strike called by workers’ union, in which 250 million people were expected to participate across the country, parts of the Indian state of West Bengal have witnessed violent incidents and clashes.

    In the first video surfacing on social media, a few men can be seen vandalising a bus in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar. Men with their faces covered can be seen hurling stones at the bus with passengers, who can be seen rushing out.

    ​In another video, clashes erupted allegedly between workers of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress party and its rival Communist Party of India-affiliated Students Federation of India. Some people can be seen in a melee while passerby tried to calm them down.

    ​West Bengal is also witnessing blockades of railway tracks by demonstrators in Howrah leading to the cancellation of 42 trains. Demonstrators also obstructed railway tracks in Kanchrapara.

    In another development, four crude bombs were recovered by the state police near a railway track in North 24 Parganas.

    State Chief Mamata Banerjee has condemned the “hooliganism”, saying that violence in the name of agitation is unacceptable and this is not what the movement is about.

    ​Ten major trade unions, excluding the ones affiliated with the federally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, have announced their participation in the shutdown across India against the Modi government’s “anti-worker” policies such as disinvestment and privatisation of state entities in a bid to provide relief to the ailing economy.

    Though the central government didn’t respond to the protests, it has issued a notice to public officers asking them not to grant any kind of leave to employees during the duration of the protests.

    Meanwhile, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has stressed in parliament that “whatever the government is doing is in the interest of the country” and a recession-like situation is unlikely.

    The Indian economy has been facing an unprecedented slowdown over the past two years with economic growth decelerating to 4.5 percent in the September quarter, its slowest pace since March 2013.


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