BHUBANESWAR: Normal life was thrown out of gear as Congress workers and supporters staged protest across Odisha to enforce Bharat Bandh over rising petrol and diesel prices. OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik claimed the bandh a grand success.
Schools and colleges remained closed, while business and commercial establishments pulled down the shutters as Congress activists took protest to streets in various districts. The Biju Patnaik University of Technology suspended its examinations for all professional courses on the day.
Bandh paralysed transport services as buses and trucks remained off roads. Rail services were also affected as 12 trains were cancelled, while several others regulated in the East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone as Congress activists staged ‘Rail Roko’ in different parts of the State. Barring stray incidents of violence, the bandh was peaceful by and large, said police.
In Bhubaneswar, daily commuters faced a tough time as civic transport services participated in the bandh. Buses, taxis and other public transport vehicles went off the road for several hours. Many passengers were stranded at Baramunda bus stand and city railway station.Vehicular movement on NH 16 came to a grinding halt as Congress activists parked their vehicles on road and burnt tyres. The party workers led by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik staged a demonstration near Congress Bhawan.
Air travellers worst hit
Bhubaneswar:The air and train travellers in the City were the worst affected due to the bandh. Ninan Thomas and Jacob George of Kerala, who had come to the City to meet one of their friends, were forced to walk to the airport as their car was waylaid by the protestors. Thomas said since they had to board a flight at 10.30 am, they decided to walk almost 2 kms before the crew of a news channel dropped them at the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA). The passengers who arrived at BPIA also had a harrowing experience as the taxis and auto-rickshaws were not available.
A New Delhi resident, Abbas, who arrived at the airport in the morning, approached a two-wheeler rider who was giving lifts to the passengers. But he demanded `250 for dropping him at the railway station. Bhubaneswar Basketball Association’s women team, which returned to the City after participating in a State level tournament in Rourkela, had to walk from the railway station to Kalinga Stadium with the trophy in their hands. “We returned on Monday morning by Rajya Rani Express, but were not able to find any public transport at the railway station,” one of the players said.
To avoid inconvenience, most of the Government employees reached office before 9.30 am. Some ministers and MLAs were seen walking and riding pillion to the State Assembly which is in session from September 4. Several CPI activists were also detained in front of Jaydev Bhawan while they were marching towards the Assembly to protest against the rise in fuel prices. Bhubaneswar DCP Anup Sahu said about 20 platoons of police force were deployed in the Capital and security was beefed up near the Assembly to avoid any untoward incident.
Apart from Bhubaneswar, the Congress workers and leaders staged protest and organised bike rallies in Cuttack, Ganjam, Puri, Rayagada, Koraput, Nawarangpur and Sambalpur districts. Stray incidents of violence were reported from some parts of the State during the bandh. Congress activists allegedly barged into the Tehsil Office in Kakatpur while their counterparts created disturbance in the office of Nawarangpur Collector and Tehsil office in Remuna.