Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhadrak, Aug 14:
Life has come to a standstill in Odisha’s district headquarters town of Bhadrak in response to a 12-hour bandh call given by the Ganatantrik Nagarik Manch in support of the employees’ association of Barpada Engineering College.
While schools, colleges, shops and other commercial establishments are closed, vehicles have remained off the roads. Protestors have blocked roads at several places in the town by setting old automobile tyres on fire. The BJP has lent its support to the bandh call.
Around 400 odd employees of the Barapada Engineering College are protesting against the hurling of crude bombs on them while they were on a peaceful dharna inside the college premises on August 7 demanding their overdue salaries.
The 400-odd employees have not received their salaries for over five months. They had agitated over the issue on several occasions but the situation turned worse when five bombs exploded in the college premises while they were on dharna on August 7 inside the college premises after locking the gates of the college. Police had arrested 11 persons in connection with the bomb explosion incident.
The employees of the engineering college alleged that former Minister and sitting BJD MLA from Bhandaripokhari Prafulla Samal and his son have embezzled over Rs 100 crore from the engineering college in the last few years while demanding a through inquiry into the misappropriation.
“We are observing the bandh in protest against the hurling of bombs on us and our students. We demand taking over of the college by the government. We find no reason why a private individual Prafulla Samal and his family illegally encroach on property inside the college when it stands on government land and building. We have not received our salaries, EPF etc for five months. When we are demanding our salaries, they are hurling bombs on us,” said a striking employee of the college.
“The future of the students studying here is dark. Families of around 300 employees of this college have been pushed into darkness as they have not received their salaries for five months. Since the people of Bhadrak have extended their support to the employees of this college, we the BJP have also come out in their support. Our party will extend support to them till their demands are fulfilled,” said a local BJP leader.