Maoist bandh disrupts traffic

Berhampur/ Phulbani: Vehicular traffic was disrupted in Maoist-hit areas in Kondhmal and Ganjam districts today, on the first day of the two-day bandh called by Maoists in the state. However, the bandh, called by the ultras in protest against recent arrest of their three cadres, including two from Chhattisgarh, evoked little response in Ganjam district.

The police arrested three cadre while they were coming for medical check-up of one of the women, police said. Vehicles were off the roads in Daringibadi, Bramhanigaon and Kotagarh areas in Kondhmal district and shops and business establishments also downed shutters in response to the bandh call. Government offices, educational institutions, however, were running as usual, said an officer.

There was no response to the bandh in Ganjam district, the police said. Passenger buses were running as usual while shops and business establishments remained open in Maoist-hit areas in Badagarh and Sorada areas in the district. State government-owned Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) had decided not to ply long-route buses via Phulabani and Baliguda for two days due to the bandh call.

"We will not operate the buses via Phulbani and Baliguda during the next two days," station master, OSRTC, Berhampur unit, A K Mishra said. While around 20 long-run vehicles run through Phulbani, district headquarters town of Kondhmal, around 15 OSRTC buses ply via Baliguda daily. Several private operators had also decided not to operate their vehicles in these routes out of fear.

Meanwhile, security had been tightened in both the districts following the bandh call as elections for the three-tier panchayat was going on. Elections for the fourth phase would be held in 1111 booths in four blocks in Ganjam and three blocks in Kandhamal district tomorrow, the last day of two-day bandh. Security has been tightened in Maoist-hit areas while combing operation was continuing in the district, said SP (Kondhmal) JN Pankaj.