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Normal life affected in 14 Odisha districts due to VHP strike

Bhubaneswar, Apr 19 (PTI) Normal life in 14 districts of Odisha, including violence-hit Sambalpur, was affected on Wednesday due to a 12-hour ‘hartal’ (strike) called by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) to protest the “anti-Hindu” attitude of the BJD government.

The dawn-to-dusk strike has also been supported by the BJP, Bajrang Dal and other outfits of the Sangh Parivar.

Clashes were reported in Sambalpur on April 12 and 14, following which curfew was imposed in the city and internet services were suspended in the district. The prohibitory order clamped in Sambalpur city since the midnight of April 14 following large-scale violence during Hanuman Jayanti celebrations was, however, partially lifted but the suspension of internet services was extended by another 24 hours till 10 am on Thursday, an official said.

The strike was spontaneous in Sambalpur, with commercial establishments remaining shut and few vehicles plying the roads. In other districts, however, Hindutva activists were seen staging blockades on roads and urging people to shut their shops.

However, emergency services have been kept out of the purview of the hartal.

Police personnel were deployed at important junctions in the affected districts to prevent any untoward incident.

ASP, Sambalpur, Tapan Kumar Mohanty said there has been no report of any untoward incident in the district so far.

Besides Sambalpur, the hartal was observed in Bargarh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Sonepur, Boudh, Nuapada, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada districts.

Agitators demanded stringent action against “those responsible” for the violence in Sambalpur.

“We will observe a state-wide strike if no action is taken against those guilty within 48 hours,” Subhransu Sekhar Satpathy, VHP secretary, Odisha, said.

BJP state unit president Manmohan Samal alleged that the police acted in a partisan manner and allowed mischief-mongers to go scot-free and arrested some innocent people.

The Sambalpur district administration, meanwhile, relaxed curfew following improvement in situation. No fresh violence was reported since April 14.

“Curfew has been relaxed from 7 am to 6 pm as the situation has improved,” Sambalpur Collector Ananya Das said.

However, the state government extended the suspension of internet services by 24 hours till 10 am on Thursday across Sambalpur district.

The administration, however, provided internet services to banks and commercial establishments in some areas except Sambalpur city.

The collector, along with Superintendent of Police B Gangadhar, held several peace committee meetings with representatives of localities and said normalcy is returning.

The BJD, on the other hand, accused the BJP of trying to “instigate violence” in Odisha.

BJD spokesperson Srimayee Mishra said party activists will bring out peace marches across the state on Wednesday evening.

“It is extremely unfortunate that when peace is returning to Sambalpur, the Odisha BJP wants to instigate for political gains. This has always been their strategy. The police have taken tough action against those involved in the violence,” she said in a statement. PTI AAM ACD ACD

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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