Train services hit in Odisha during "Bharat Bandh" called by Congress
At least 10 trains were canceled 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.
The 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 tires, 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.
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 Patnaik 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.
Shops, markets, business establishments, and educational institutions remained closed across the state during the 9-hour-long shutdown, while attendance was thin in offices. Employees were seen reaching banks and offices early in the morning.
Emergency services, including ambulance, medicine shops and vehicles carrying milk, have been kept out of the purview of the bandh.
Examinations scheduled for the day were canceled by the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT), sources said.
The situation remained by and large peaceful barring stray incidents at Kakatpur in Puri district as elaborate security arrangements were made as a precautionary measure, a senior police official said.
Describing the bandh as a "complete success" in the state, OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik said people extended their spontaneous support to the strike as they are hit hard by the hike in the prices of petroleum products.
He said his party had also called upon the ruling BJD to suspend the proceedings of the Assembly till 3 pm if it sincerely opposed the price hike of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.
Patnaik said the bandh passed off peacefully except a minor incident of a scuffle at Kakatpur and the party has formed a committee to inquire into the matter. "If any Congress worker is found involved in the incident, action will be taken," he said.
Regarding the Congress' request to suspend Assembly proceedings during the bandh, BJD spokesperson Samir Ranjan Dash said the ruling party has been protesting fuel price hike.
The BJD staged protests near petrol pump outlets against the hike, he said.