The six-hour statewide ‘hartal’ called by the Congress today to press the demand for the removal of Odisha MoS (Home) Dibya Shankar Mishra for his alleged role in the murder of Kalahandi lady teacher Mamita Meher passed off peacefully.
Normal life was partially affected as shops and business establishments remained open and public transport continued to operate in most places of the state. However, shops downed their shutters in Bolangir, where the deceased lady teacher belonged, and some other places.
With the Orissa high court saying ‘no’ to the Congress’ original plan of holding a full-fledged bandh, party activists were seen pleading with people to down their shutters and stay indoors across the state.
Some Congress activists were even seen distributing chocolates to people in a bid to seek their cooperation for the hartal. Party members were seen holding placards and raising slogans demanding the resignation of Mishra.
“We are not forcing anyone nor are we preventing anyone from moving. We are only requesting them to co-operate. People are voluntarily supporting the hartal, which is a success,” said senior Congress leader Suresh Routray in Bhubaneswar.
Bhubaneswar DCP Umashankar Das said the hartal had been peaceful and no untoward incident had been reported from anywhere in the capital city. There were no reports of violence from any other place in the state either.
The Orissa high court had thrown a spanner in the Congress’ plan to hold a six-hour bandh yesterday saying it can only organise a peaceful hartal.
Hearing a petition moved by a businessman in Cuttack city, a division bench headed by Chief Justice S Muralidhar had said rail and road transport cannot be stopped nor shops forced to close during the hartal.
While abiding by the restrictions set by the court, the Congress smelt a ‘conspiracy’ in the matter reaching the court.
“We are not the only party to call a bandh nor was this first occasion when a bandh was organised in the case. The government is so scared that it hatched a conspiracy to foil our bandh call,” senior Congress leader Jaydev Jena said at a press conference at Congress Bhavan here shortly after the six-hour hartal came to an end.