SAMBALPUR/BHUBANESWAR: All government offices remained closed in Sambalpur on Wednesday as residents extended their support to the lawyers of western Odisha who launched an agitation in Bhubaneswar demanding the establishment of a High Court bench in the region.
As the central action committee (CAC) of All Western Odisha Bar Associations staged protest in the State Capital, residents under the banner of Sambalpur Kriyanusthan Committee, hit the streets to express solidarity with the lawyers.
Residents staged protest outside all the State and Central government offices. A group of agitators including lawyers staged demonstration near Kachery Chowk in the city to restrict people from moving towards the court. Some agitators even slept on the road to prevent judicial officers from going inside the court premises.
An agitator Deepak Panda said, “Lawyers are protesting in the State Capital over the demand for establishment of a High Court bench in Western Odisha. Since we are in favour of the demand, we resorted to agitation to show our support.”
The establishment of a HC bench in western Odisha is a long-standing demand. “As residents of western Odisha, we need to contribute to the agitation collectively. Apart from locals, members of different social organisations and leaders of all political parties supported the agitation,” he said.
Panda further alleged that the government was giving false assurances and not paying heed to the genuine demand of the people of western Odisha region. “We want the State government to send a comprehensive proposal to the Centre with the opinion of the Orissa High Court on establishment of a bench in this region at the earliest,” he added.
Earlier on Monday, members of the Sambalpur district bar association and Kriyanusthan Committee had taken out a bike rally to mobilise people for the agitation. On the day, over 500 lawyers from western Odisha staged protest at Lower PMG in Bhubaneswar demanding a permanent HC bench in the region.
A 12-member delegation of All Western Odisha Bar Associations met Law Minister Jagannath Saraka, Health Minister Naba Kishore Das and Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari at Lok Sewa Bhawan and put forth its demand. “The Ministers assured us that the government will look into our demand,” said president of the lawyers’ body Gyana Ranjan Mohanty.