6-hr 'hartal' by Cong in Odisha to press for min's removal
Opposition Congress held a six-hour hartal in Odisha on Friday demanding the sacking and arrest of the Minister of State for Home D S Mishra, who is in the eye of the storm for his alleged closeness with the prime accused in the Kalahandi teachers kidnap and murder.The hartal began at 6 am amidst tight security and is peaceful so far with no report of any untoward incident in the incident, police said.
Opposition Congress held a six-hour 'hartal' in Odisha on Friday demanding the sacking and arrest of the Minister of State for Home D S Mishra, who is in the eye of the storm for his alleged closeness with the prime accused in the Kalahandi teacher's kidnap and murder.
The 'hartal' began at 6 am amidst tight security and is peaceful so far with no report of any untoward incident in the incident, police said. All non-BJD parties are supporting the 'hartal'. The opposition parties comprising Congress and BJP have been demanding the sacking of Mishra since the body of the 24-year-old woman teacher was exhumed from the compound of the school where she taught in Kalahandi on October 19. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee had called a six-hour bandh across the state but the Orissa High Court on Thursday ruled that only a 'hartal' can be held and not a general strike. Following the ruling Congress, activists were seen picketing at several places. But none prevented plying of vehicles or forced shops and business establishments to down shutters as security personnel stood guard at major points Many party activists were seen requesting people to observe the hartal for the sake of security of women in the state. In Cuttack some hartal supporters were seen offering chocolates to the people to solicit their support. Markets and owners of big shops were, however, closed fearing violence. Small shops were open and some vehicles operated across the state. Buses were seen plying in Bhubaneswar but there were few passengers. Many people preferred to stay indoors due to the inclement weather. Government and private offices witnessed normal attendance as there was no road blockade or rail roko anywhere. "We are holding the hartal peacefully as per the high court direction. People on their own stayed put in their houses. The people of Odisha, particularly women, have now realized that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been shielding the minister of state for home," said senior Congress leader and MLA Suresh Routray. The hartal impacted life in Bolangir, the native place of the murdered woman teacher, and Kalahandi, where she was killed and buried. Paradip Port, Nalco, and other industries in the state functioned as usual as the protesters did not stage road blockdes, a senior police officer said. The woman teacher was killed on October 8 and her body was exhumed from the school's playground 11 days later. Two persons including the school managing committee president have been arrested and sent to jail on the charge of murdering her. The opposition has, however, alleged that the minister was patronizing the prime accused all along and demanding his immediate sacking and arrest.
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