Fuel price hike: Odisha Congress observes 6-hr ‘Chaka jam’

Bhubaneswar/Cuttack: Protesting the rising prices of petroleum products across the country and the State, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) is observing a six-hour ‘Chaka jam’ in the twin city today from 6 am to 12 noon.

The activists of the OPCC took to streets from early in the morning and were seen picketing at several key points of twin city – Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

Buses are not being allowed to enter or go out of Badambadi bus stand in Cuttack, reports said. The agitators holding banners in hand and sloganeering against the Government are seen asking commuters to stop using vehicles as a mark of solidarity protesting fuel price rise. Congress activists here have staged blockade at five places including Madhupatna Press Chhak, Jagatpur, Sikharpur and Badambadi by burning tyres.

An agitating Congress activist said, “We are protesting the unusual way the Centre hiked fuel price after Karnataka polls.”

Activists of the Congress party were also seen picketing at Vani Vihar Chhak in Bhubaneswar.

Normal life has been affected and in some places, the protests began as early as 4 am in the morning. Vehicles small and heavy were seen stranded in most places of twin city.

In Bhubaneswar, bus passengers had to wait for long hours at the Baramunda bus stand due to the strike observed by Congress.

A bus passenger from Nabarangpur said, “I reached the bus stand at around 6 am and did not know about the stir. Without food and water, we have to wait till 12 noon here.”

A woman bus passenger from Jeypore said, “Though the Congress is trying to put pressure on the Centre to rollback fuel price hike, this kind of stir also affects the economy.”

OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik said, “As a political party we are concerned about the issues of people and want to create awareness among them. With this unusual price hike, certain business groups are only getting benefitted. The Centre can cut excise duty and keep the prices under check. Both the Centre and the State are responsible for increase in fuel prices.”

A student was also allegedly manhandled and assaulted by Congress activists in Cuttack.

“I have lodged a complaint after I was beaten up during the bandh. The activists also damaged by motorcycle,” said Ranjan Swain, the complainant.

Mahila Congress leader Bijayalaxmi said, “This agitation is meant to safeguard interests of common people and create awareness on how PM Narendra Modi has hit the kitchen of poor people by increasing prices of cooking gas price and fuel. Undoubtedly, the recent fuel price hikes will affect everyone.”

A Chhatra Congress leader said people have lent spontaneous support to the stir. “If the fuel price is not reduced, the agitation will be intensified in coming days,” he added.

In response to the ‘Chaka Jam’ protest, BJP’s Lekhashree Samantsinghar stated, “The GST and VAT equation is very simple. Prices have gone up due to the increase in prices in the international market. The BJP-led Central Government is trying in every possible way to reduce the prices. The state government should think of reducing VAT. And it seems the Congress is not worried about reducing the fuel prices, rather the protest is just being carried out for politics.”

BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra on the other hand said it would have been more appropriate on Congress’ part to adopt such pressure tactics on the Central government.

“As Congress is a national party, we urge them to put pressure on the Central government on the issue,” said Patra.

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