Mixed response to 12-hour 'hartal' in Odisha



Bhubaneswar: Normal life was partially affected on Friday during a 12-hour state-wide 'hartal' called by the ruling BJD in Odisha demanding special category status to the state.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in many places while attendance in banks, offices and other organisations was thin. Some people reached offices early in the morning to avoid inconvenience, police said.

Vehicular movement was affected with many buses and auto-rickshaws keeping off the road.

However, work in industrial sector, public sector units and Paradip Port remained unaffected.

Train services were disrupted for sometime as BJD activists staged demonstrations and blocked rail tracks in various places including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Khurda Road, Balasore, Bhadrak and Sambalpur, police said.

Hartal supporters staged picketing in different places, particularly near central government offices, raising slogans against the Congress-led UPA accusing it of neglecting Odisha.

Reports of damage to vehicles were received from some localities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack as 'hartal' supporters tried to prevent people from proceeding to work places and other destinations, police said.

The ruling BJD had initially given a call for Odisha 'bandh' today. However, the party backtracked from its earlier announcement later saying there would be a state-wide 12-hour 'hartal' and not 'bandh', apparently fearing legal hassles.

It also restricted the 'hartal' in railway sector to three hours.

PTI