BHUBANESWAR: What was supposed to be a ‘peaceful’ agitation turned so disruptive on Monday that unruly BJD workers misbehaved with women, harassed commuters, damaged vehicles and did not even spare ambulances carrying critical patients.The lathi-wielding BJD supporters blocked passage of ambulances at CRPF Square, Palasuni and Baramunda. There were several instances of women being misbehaved by BJD workers which evoked widesacpread condemnation. A woman was surrounded and humiliated by a mob near Delta Square whereas the two-wheeler of another was damaged by lumpen elements near Big Bazaar.
“Where was the police? Was it not the responsibility of the cops to help the public? Or are they here to serve their political masters?,” questioned a woman who faced humiliation at the hands of the agitators on her way to work.“I have seen bandhs and hartals in the past. This, by far, was the worst,” said 46-year-old Sandeep Rout who faced numerous problems driving his daughter back from school.
Young students, who were sent back from schools, faced the ire of the ruling party activists let loose in full glare of Twin City Police.
As parents were meted out intimidation and misbehaviour by the BJD supporters, school students were terrorised.While there already was confusion among schools because of a delayed announcement of hartal, the Chief Minister’s Office only added to the chaos by issuing an advisory in the morning asking the educational institutions to shut down. Schools had to cancel and reschedule the tests.
Thirtyfive-year-old salesman Rabindra Sethi said neither ruling party activists nor police came to his rescue when he was desperately trying to find safety for his two children. “Did the BJD leaders not see on the TV what was happening all around the City? Why did not they stop their men from harassing the public if the agitation was meant to be peaceful,” he wondered.If all this was not bad enough, a youth whose bike was vandalised by the BJD workers was taken into custody by the cops when he demanded that he be compensated for the loss. Instead of taking the vandals to task, police whisked him away in a van.
Many citizens were at a loss to understand why a public agitation for their cause was directed at causing severe inconvenience to the public. City buses, auto-rickshaws and private vehicles were not only prevented from plying, essential services like petrol pumps were also shut down. All major commercial establishments and even small vendors closed shop throughout the five hours of vandalism.