Bharat bandh cripples life in state

Bhubaneswar: Train services were hit as protestors squatted on tracks in the state during the ‘Bharat bandh’ called by the Congress to protest against rising fuel prices and tumbling rupee Monday.
Congress workers blocked railway tracks in many places, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Keonjhar, Khurda Road, Paradip, Balasore and Bhadrak, to enforce the shutdown from 6 am to 3 pm.
At least 10 trains were cancelled and several others regulated in the jurisdiction of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) in view of the ‘Bharat Bandh’, an ECoR official said. A large number of passengers were stranded at railway stations in different places as many trains were delayed due to the ‘rail roko’ programme, officials said.
Vehicular movement also came to a grinding halt in many places as Congress workers blocked roads at various junctions in places such as Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Sambalpur and Khurda by burning tyres, they said. Commuters were stranded in many places as buses, taxis and autorickshaws stayed off the roads. A large number of vehicles were seen stranded on national and state highways.
In state capital Bhubaneswar, Congress workers staged road blockade at several places disrupting movement of vehicles on the national highway through the city.
Business establishments and educational institutions also remained closed during the strike fearing violence by bandh supporters.

Proceedings in the state Assembly were washed out following ruckus by Congress members who trooped into the well soon after the House assembled for the day demanding its adjournment till 3 pm as a mark of protest against the rising prices of petroleum products.

As Congress Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati tried to climb the speaker’s podium amid sloganeering by party legislators against the fuel price hike, Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat adjourned the House for the day.

Outside the Assembly building, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Niranjan Patnai led a dharna and urged the legislators to skip participation in the House business till 3 pm in support of the ‘Bharat Bandh’.

The impact of bandh was also felt in the tourist destination of Konark as bandh supporters locked the ticket counter of the famous Sun Temple. As a result, a large number of tourists failed to visit the monument, officials said.

Two cases of using force and violence by bandh supporters were reported from the state. Activists of Congress party were seen barging into the Tehsil office at Kakatpur breaking the gates. However no injuries were reported. Similarly, in Nabarangpur the party workers gate-crashed the District Collector’s office and tried to create disturbance in the Remuna area.

In other parts of the state the bandh remained largely peaceful but put the normal lives of the citizens at tenterhooks. Buses abstained from plying on the roads while hundreds of trucks were stranded en-route as the party workers enforced the ban and restricted movement of private as well as public vehicles onto the roads by creating blockades at several places in the state.

Mixed response

New Delhi: The Bharat bandh evoked mixed response in the country as the Opposition closed its ranks against the Modi government. The BJP dubbed the protest a failure. The day-long shutdown affected normal life in Karnataka, Bihar, Kerala and Tripura and triggered a mixed response in Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. But it was mostly ineffective in Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal. Shutdown enforcers resorted to blocking roads and rail tracks disrupting traffic in several parts of the country. In Bihar, a critically ill two-year-old girl died on her way to a hospital in Jehanabad town apparently due to a road blockade.