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Bhim Army’s Bharat Bandh Heat Felt In Odisha

Sambalpur/ Bolangir: Protesting a recent Supreme Court ruling stating that States were not bound to provide reservations in promotion and appointments in public employment, a 12-hour bandh is being observed in several parts of Odisha including Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Bolangir on Sunday. The agitation is part of ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by Bhim Army against the Apex Court’s ruling.

The activists of Bhim Army staged a rail roko agitation at Sambalpur Railway Station and detained Sambalpur-Puri Intercity Express today. Several passengers were reportedly stranded at the station for over an hour due to the rail roko agitation.

Hemant Azad Bhim Army Odisha in-charge said, “The Bharat Bandh is being observed against SC’s ruling that reservation is not a fundamental right.”

On February 7, a two-judge bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta observed that it’s not a fundamental right to claim reservations in promotions. The bench also said that Article 16 (4) of the Constitution is only an enabling provision.

According to reports, SC was hearing a group of appeals pertaining to reservations to SCs and STs in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in PWD, Uttarakhand.

The leaders of Bhim Army are demanding that the Centre should bring an ordinance to nullify the SC ruling.
Apart from the district chamber of commerce, several organisations including Dalit Samaj, Ambedkar Party of India and BSP extended support to the Bharat Bandh.

“All the business establishments remained closed and it is for the first time that such bandh is being observed in Bolangir. We oppose the SC ruling as it has snatched our rights for which there had been massive agitation in the past,” said an agitator in Bolangir.

Another demonstrator said, “People have voluntarily supported the bandh and all the markets, shops and other commercial establishments are closed in the town. Besides, we staged rail roko agitation at Bolangir station.”

Moreover, the activists burnt tyres and staged road blockade at several parts of Sambalpur and Bolangir. Vehicular traffic was also disrupted due to such demonstrations.

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