Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 7:
Normal life was paralysed in most parts of the state as the Congress began its dawn to dusk hartal across the state demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his alleged involvement in the mining scam in the wake of the Justice MB Shah Commission report indicting his government.
Commuters were the worst hit by the hartal as buses and trains have stopped plying. While Congress workers stopped the movement of trains picketing in the stations at various parts of the state. Railway stations are choc a bloc with passengers as several long distance trains have been stopped.
Shops, business establishments and schools were closed in most places in the state during the hartal, which has remained largely peaceful so far with no untoward incident reported from any place, a senior police official said.
Attendance was thin at government offices as the Congress workers picketed in front of government offices and did not allow the employees to enter their offices.
Similar reports were received from places like Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Balasore, Baripada, Puri, Bhadrak and Rourkela.
Despite the Congress announcement of only a token protest in Bhubaneswar in view of the BMC polls tomorrow, commuters were not spared the trouble in the city. Hundreds of people were stranded at the Baramunda bus stand as the private bus owners’ association and OSRTC stopped plying their buses on the road today. The city bus service also remained off the roads.
“I have been waiting for a bus since last three hours to return to my village in Phulbani. But, now I find that the buses are not plying. I didn’t know about the hartal. Besides, I have no relative in Bhubaneswar to stay here,” said Rajashree Jena.
However, some auto-rickshaws were seen plying on the road and they are charging heavy price from the commuters.
The gates of the state secretariat were locked apprehending trouble. Ministers and babus were found using the back gate of the building to enter the secretariat.
PCC president Jayadev Jena along with other senior leaders sat on a token dharna at the PMG square here.
“We will expose the Chief Minister, who always claims to be clean. Now, the Shah Commission has indicted him in the mining scam and he has no right to continue in the office even for a day. He should immediately resign and face arrest,” said Jena.
However, the ruling BJD said the Congress party is holding the hartal out of frustration.
“The party has lost every single election in the last months, including the recently concluded ULB polls. The hartal is nothing but an example of their frustration,” said BJD vice-president and Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro.