Bhubaneswar: Normal life was affected across Odisha on Friday due to a dawn-to-dusk bandh called by Congress protesting alleged mismanagement in Lord Jagannath’s Brahma Parivartan rituals and demading a judicial probe into the episode.
Train and bus services were disrupted during the 12-hour shut-down with Congress workers and leaders holding picketing and blocking railway tracks, bus stands and roads in different places, police said.
Bandh supporters blocked railway tracks at various places including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Balasore since morning disrupting movement of trains and leaving a large number of passengers stranded.
Shops and business establishments remained closed and vehicular movement came to a halt in different places.
Besides the state capital of Bhubaneswar, impact of the bandh was felt elsewhere in the state including Cuttack, Balasore, Puri, Bhadrak, Sambalpur, Angul, Rourkela, Balangir, Sundargarh, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur.
However, essential and emergency services like hospital and ambulance service were spared from the bandh.
While the bandh remained by and large peaceful, tension surfaced for sometime near the state Secretariat in Bhubaneswar when a group of youth Congress activists came face to face with police.
As a precautionary measure, the police tightened security in the state capital and other places to prevent any untoward incident. Police personnel in strength were deployed outside the chief minister’s residence.
“We have augmented security in certain important installations,” Commissioner of Police RP Sharma said, adding police personnel are deployed in residence of the law Minister Arun Sahoo and some other ministers and senior officers.
Several Congress leaders and activists were taken into custody, the police said.
Utkal University, Berhampur University, Ravenshaw University and Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) have suspended examinations scheduled for today in view of the bandh.
Questioning Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s silence on the issue, Congress demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court Judge into the fiasco in the sacred and secret Brahma Paribartan ritual which was scheduled to be held at night on June 15 but was performed the next day.
While Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Prasad Harichandan described the inquiry being conducted by Shri Jagannath Temple Administration into the matter as an “eyewash”, AICC secretary Subhankar Sarkar said people spontaneously supported the bandh as chaos and indiscipline during Lord Jagannath’s rituals had hurt their sentiments.
Devotees feel the image of Odisha has been lowered worldwide due to mismanagement in Brahma Paribartan of Lord Jagannath, regarded as the Lord of the universe, in whose name some people are doing business, Sarkar said.