Bharat bandh; security tightened

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: The Congress party Sunday called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ Monday to protest against the steep rise in diesel and petrol prices and the falling value of the rupee against the dollar.
Congress leader Ajay Maken said the party wants petrol and diesel to be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would decrease the price by Rs 15-18. He said there should be an immediate reduction in central excise duty and excessive VAT in the states.
About 20 political parties are participating in the protest, Maken told the media.
He said the Centre had earned Rs 11 lakh crore in the last four years through excise duty on fuel and this money was taken from the common man to fill the government’s coffers.
Strike in state
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in the state capital, OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik said that the bandh will be in effect from 6am-3pm throughout the state, but essential services like ambulances, medical shops, movements of examinees and patients and milk vans would be excluded from the purview of the strike.
“People from different parts of the state are with us on the issue. Our MLAs will join the stir in different parts of the state, while others will participate in the state capital to protest against surging petrol prices. The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the BJD government in state both are responsible for the hike in petrol prices,” Patnaik said.
The OPCC president also said that Congress MLAs will so abstain from the proceedings of the state legislative Assembly till 3pm to mark their protest and also urged the ruling party to join them. He said that smaller parties like CPM and CPI have also supported the bandh call. At the same time, Patnaik reiterated that party workers won’t take the law into their hands and will shun violence during the strike.

BJD against bandh

The BJD, however, made it clear that the party was against the bandh call. Party spokesperson Sameer Dash said, “We are not supporting the Bharat Bandh. Our party has already protested on the issue by creating awareness among the people at petrol pumps and a decision on the issue of adjournment in the Assembly would be taken by the Speaker.”

Another party spokesman Sasmit Patra said, “We have been holding protests across the state since last three days to make the people aware about the steep price rise of the petroleum products. We are not supporting the Bharat Bandh.”

However, the government has declared that schools will remain closed Monday to ensure the safety of the students.

BJP’s stand

The BJP, which is at the centre of attack tried to take on both the Congress and BJD. Party spokesperson Samir Mohanty said that the ruling dispensation in the state had been trying to make the strike successful and both the BJD and Congress party were cheating the people of the state.

Police on high alert
Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Police said that they are trying to not leave any stone unturned to ensure the peaceful passage of the Bharat bandh as well as the safety of the people. “We have deployed 50 platoons of police personnel in the Capital city, while another 20 platoons have been deployed in Cuttack we are deploying 20 platoons to thwart any untoward incident during the proposed Bharat Bandh in the state. Security at the vital installations across the state as well as the state Assembly has been beefed up in view of the strike tomorrow,” Satyajit Mohanty, Twin City Police Commissioner, told the Orissa POST. According to the police, the security around all state and Central government offices as well as the high court in Cuttack has been tightened from Sunday evening to avoid any untoward incident. In addition, mobile patrols will be swung into action. “We have deployed striking forces at strategic locations to deal with any situation,” Mohanty added.
Director General of Police RP Shrama told Orissa POST, “We hope the bandh will be peaceful. However, the SPs and DCPs across the state have been instructed to take adequate steps to check any violent situation. We have provided them with additional security forces as per intelligence reports. We have kept in mind the intensity and possible effects of the bandh call.”

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