May 27, 2020
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first_imgA five-hour-long hartal observed by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) against the steep rise in prices of petroleum products turned violent at many places, throwing life out of gear on Monday morning.Ministers, MLAs and party workers took to the streets to enforce the hartal at major traffic junctions, railway stations and bus terminals across Odisha. Commuters were allegedly not allowed to move an inch thanks to lathi-wielding BJD workers.Last-minute advisoryThe State government issued an advisory early on Monday morning stating that schools and colleges should remain closed in view of the hartal and that examinations be rescheduled to prevent inconvenience to students.However, many educational institutions had already opened by the time the advisory came into the public domain. Parents taking children to schools were allegedly chased away by BJD workers. Cars and two-wheelers were smashed even as police personnel remained mute spectators across the city. Even ambulances were not spared.People taking family members to hospitals in cars here were seen pleading with BJD workers to allow them to pass. However, their appeals were ignored. Some people took to Twitter to lodge their protest by tagging Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik. A video of a lone girl on a scooter being stopped and attacked by a group hartal supporters went viral, triggering outrage among the Twitterati.“This isn’t the party I assisted NP [Mr. Patnaik] to found 20 years ago. I am ashamed and angered by this. Biju babu [former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik] would have been too. Armchair strategists must go [sic],” tweeted senior BJD leader Baijayant Panda.He condemned the violence saying, “I disassociate myself from the violence. These goons must face action.” Press conferenceAddressing a press conference, BJD leaders clarified their stand saying the party did not endorse violence but that the people took to the streets as a spontaneous outpouring of anger against the rise in prices of petroleum products.Former Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said the Central government was cornering huge ‘revenue’ by imposing taxes on petroleum products while the common man was left to suffer. The BJD’s hartal affected vehicular movement. Dozens of trains were stranded at different places as BJD leaders and workers stopped trains. Passenger buses too remained off the road.last_img