The dawn-to-dusk hartal sponsored by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over death of 15-year-old burn victim of Kendrapara drew mixed response across the State on Saturday. However, Western Odisha, the stronghold of the saffron party, as well as some parts of the South came out in full support of the call.
Though the party had called for a peaceful hartal, it was far from one. In the Capital City itself, BJP activists went on a rampage, attacking vehicles at several places.
Buses of educational institutions were not spared, while banks and shopping establishments suffered damage as the activists resorted to stone-pelting.
About 6,000 activists of the party were arrested from across the State during the hartal called to protest the apathy of the BJD Government to the Kendrapara girl’s plight leading to her death.
Public transport was the most hit. Rail roko was reported from several places since 6 am and morning trains were delayed by about an hour and a half leaving passengers inconvenienced. By 8 am, normal services had begun though.
However, bus services - by both private and government operators - remained suspended till late afternoon across the State.
Banking services were totally shut down. Since it was second Saturday of the month, most offices were closed.
Reports reaching from different parts of the State said the hartal was total in western Odisha districts of Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Balangir, Sonepur, Nuapada and Kalahandi. Normal life came to a halt as commercial establishments downed the shutters and people preferred to stay indoors.
With public transport crippled, travellers were in for trouble at most places. All educational institutions remained closed.
In some of the interior districts such as Boudh the strike was partial.
In northern districts of Mayurbhanj and Baripada, life was affected by the strike.
Southern parts of the State including Ganjam and Rayagada reported a partial response. In Berhampur, life was normal as educational institutions functioned smoothly and even shops and markets were open. In some places, petrol pumps were providing service. In Jeypore, the bandh was total as people responded to the call spontaneously.
However, the bandh was partial in coastal pockets. Khurda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara reported partial response. In Paradip Port, the loading and unloading services continued normally.
In the Capital City, the BJP supporters staged road blockade by burning tyres and even damaged vehicles at several places.
Two engineering college buses and a truck were damaged while several auto-rickshaws bore the brunt of the hartal.
The Bhawani Mall and branches of private banks faced stone-pelting.
Though commercial establishments remained closed in the City, life was almost normal. Vehicular movement was unaffected though City Bus service was suspended.
Senior leaders of BJP conducted picketing across the Capital. Party president KV Singhdeo, Rajya Sabha member and national general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan and former minister Surama Padhy were arrested during the hartal.
Director General of Police Prakash Mishra said the hartal was peaceful and no disturbance was reported from any part of the State.