Bandh disrupts normal life in Kandhamal

Phulbani: Shops downed shutters and vehicular movement came to a grinding halt as the BJP and Congress, in a rare show of solidarity, observed a dawn-to-dusk bandh today in protest against the killing of six civilians at Krutamgada during an anti-Maoist operation.

Activists of the Opposition parties blocked roads at several places in the district by burning tyres or picketing. Reports from Phulbani, Baliguda, G. Udayagiri and K. Nuagaon say normal life was severely affected due to the bandh by the BJP and Congress.

To maintain law and order in the district, the local administration has deployed two platoons of police force at Phulbani.

A high-level team led by BJP state president Basant Panda is scheduled to visit the spot tomorrow.

Congress leader Pradip Majhi, who sat on a dharna in front of the Collector’s office, said, “This agitation will be undertaken in other parts of the State as well. Today, people of the district have come onto the street to show their anger. The people will not tolerate the killing of five innocent tribals which was done under the direct supervision of the SP and IG. The stir will be continue until the SP and IG are arrested.”

Expressing similar views, Lingaraj Dalabehera, BJP district president, Kandhamal, said, “We demand the arrest of the SP and IG (southern range) and action against them under Sec 302 of IPC. Besides, we demand Rs 20 lakh compensation each, house and job to the kin of the deceased. The injured should be given Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia and the government should bear medical expenses.”

Commenting on the Kandhamal bandh called by the Opposition parties Pratap Deb, BJD spokesperson, said, “The incident is being politicised. No doubt the firing on the civilians is an unfortunate and sad incident,” adding the judicial inquiry has been started.

He added, “The probe will find out what intelligence the security personnel had and under what circumstances the mishap occurred. An officer of whatever rank he may be, strict action will be taken against the concerned person if he found to be guilty.”

Talking about security arrangements Amitav Thakur, IG (Southern range) said, “We have made adequate security deployment for the bandh. Seven companies of CRPF, 20 platoons of special IRBs, SOG and 16 platoons police force have been deployed in Kandhamal district. Besides, two senior IPS officers and a commandant has been monitoring the situation. We hope everything will pass off peacefully.”

On the other hand, CPI(M) yesterday took out a rally from its State office in Bhubaneswar to Commissionerate Police headquarters protesting the killing. They demanded Rs 20 lakh and Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and injured, respectively. Impartial probe into the incident was also sought by the activists.