48-Hour Western Odisha Bandh Hits Life, Agitators Detain Trains

Sambalpur: Life was thrown out of gear following the 48-hour bandh call in the western Odisha districts on Thursday.

The Central Action Committee (CAC) of All Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA) had called for the bandh, demanding a permanent High Court bench in Western Odisha.

Apart from Sambalpur Bar Association, all such associations in western Odisha districts, except Balangir and Bargarh, civil societies and several social and cultural organisations have lent their unstinting support to the ‘Maha Bandh’.

Reports said all trading establishments, educational institutions and government offices remained closed due to the bandh while vehicular traffic came to a grinding halt. The Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) which was scheduled to conduct the examination today, has postponed it owing to the bandh.

However, emergency services like health, ambulance, water supply and some social functions like marriage have been kept out of the purview of the bandh.

Till reports last came in, the agitating lawyers and civil society members in Sambalpur staged rail roko at Khetrajpur railway station and detained Sambalpur-Puri and Sambalpur-Rayagada Intercity Express trains.

Talking to mediapersons, Sambalpur BJD MLA Raseswari Panigrahi said though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on behalf of the state government, has urged the Centre on three occasions with an assurance to provide all logistic support for the proposed HC bench in western Odisha, there has been no response till date. Not only the NDA government, the previous UPA government had also ignored this proposal during its tenure. Due to the sheer apathy of the Centres towards this issue, the lawyer’s agitation in Odisha has become a mass agitation, he said.

“We demand a permanent HC bench in Sambalpur as it is the lifeline of western Odisha,” Panigrahi said.

The Balangir Bar Association has decided to launch a separate agitation for the HC bench in Balangir from December 1 to 15 and called for a bandh in Balangir on December 3. The Association will resort to cease work in the district from December 3 to 10.

Apart from Sambalpur, the effect of bandh was also felt in Jharsuguda, Sundargarh and Deogarh districts and Padmapur in Bargarh district, where all trading and business establishments remained closed while the agitating lawyers stopped vehicles. Besides, vehicular movement on National Highway was disrupted due to the road blockade at Bonai.

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