HC bench: 48-hour Maha Bandh paralyses life in western Odisha

Sambalpur: Intensifying its agitation for the establishment of a permanent High Court bench in western Odisha, the Central Action Committee (CAC) of All-Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA) today launched a 48-hour ‘Maha bandh’ in the western districts of the State.

The Sambalpur Bar Association including various lawyer associations of different districts and social and cultural organisation of western Odisha have taken part in the two-day-long ‘Maha bandh’.

As a result, normal life has come to a grinding halt in the region since today morning. Shops, various educational, business establishments & markets have remained closed due to the bandh. The Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) has also postponed its examination to be held today.

However, emergency services have been kept out of the purview of the strike.

Meanwhile, the agitating lawyers of Sambalpur district staged ‘rail roko’ at Khetrajpur railway station disrupting rail services in the district. Sambalpur-Puri and Sambalpur-Rayagada Intercity trains were halted in the station to mark the bandh.

“However, emergency services like ambulance, medical, water supply have been exempted. We will completely disrupt the rail services during the ‘Maha bandh’,” said Bijitendra Pradhan, President of the Sambalpur District Bar Association.

“The Chief Minister had written thrice to the Central Government to take steps to establish permanent HC bench in western Odisha. But as the demands were not fulfilled, we have resorted to the Maha bandh,” said Sambalpur MLA Raseswari Panigrahi, who also took part in the agitation at Khetrajpur railway station.

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On the other hand, the Balangir Bar Association has decided not to participate in the two-day-long shutdown. Instead, it will launch a separate agitation for the establishment of High Court bench in Bolangir.

The lawyers’ body has decided to launch cease work strike in the district from December 1 to 15 to press for their demand. The lawyers have also called for a bandh in Bolangir on December 3 over the demand.

Members of the Bolangir Bar Association will also shut down courts in the district from December 3 to 10 as a mark of protest.