Bhubaneswar: Opposition Congress and BJP today separately called for a bandh in the Japanese Encephalitis-hit Malkangiri district of Odisha ahead of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's one-day visit scheduled tomorrow, even as ruling BJD criticised their move calling it one "challenging democracy".
"We have called a bandh during the Chief Minister's visit to Malkangiri as Patnaik did not bother about the local tribals. Where was the CM when about 500 tribal children died of JE? The lives of hundreds of children could have been saved had Patnaik made arrangements for immunisation at an appropriate time," Congress' Odisha unit vice-president and former MP Pradip Majhi told reporters.
Blaming the state government for the death of tribal children, Majhi said, "We will ensure that all shops, educational institutions and offices remain closed during Patnaik's visit to Malkangiri. A section of ruling BJD leaders also support us."
Majhi, who along with five others, has been on a hunger strike in front of Raj Bhavan here, demanded compensation of Rs 12 lakh each to the families whose children died due to JE.
"When the government can announce ex-gratia for hospital fire victims in Bhubaneswar, why tribal families are neglected? The government has been discriminating among people," Majhi said.
BJP state secretary Brugu Buxipatra announced that party supporters and activists would organise a bandh during the Chief Minister's Malkangiri visit.
"BJP has given a bandh call tomorrow keeping in view of the Chief Minister's visit," Buxipatra said. The ruling BJD, however, disapproved of the opposition's Malkangiri bandh call tomorrow.
"The opposition's call for the bandh is like challenging democracy. It is very unfortunate on their part to defy an official programme of the CM," party spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said.
The Chief Minister is scheduled to visit Malkangiri for inauguration of welfare schemes.
Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said elaborate security arrangements have been made keeping in view of the Maoist presence and opposition bandh call in the district.
He said 32 platoons (one platoon comprise 30 personnel) of police force have been deployed for maintaining law and order in the district headquarters town.
While the senior police officers have been camping in Malkangiri in view of the bandh, some ministers and ruling party MLAs also held meetings to ensure a smooth visit of Patnaik.