Congress bandh cripples Orissa, over 2,500 held
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Normal life was crippled across Orissa on Monday, with public transport remaining off roads and shops downing their shutters, as Congress enforced a statewide dawn-to-dusk bandh.
The bandh was called to protest alleged police excesses on partymen during a rally in Bhubaneswar on September 6.
Congress workers set an empty college bus on fire near the busy Ram temple square, pelted stones at a few vehicles and squatted over rail tracks and national highways, bringing trains and buses to a halt .
In Cuttack, police and Congress workers clashed, resulting in a lathicharge. Over 2,500 Congressmen, including president of the Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee Niranjan Patnaik and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh were arrested by the police.
Over a dozen trains were detained at several railway stations including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Balasore, Khurda Road, Berhampur and Sambalpur as bandh supporters staged dharnas on the tracks.
Vehicular movement virtually came to a halt in many parts of the state as passenger buses, trucks and autorickshaws remained off the roads.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at railway stations and bus stands of Bhubaneswar and Puri as town bus services were suspended.
Banks, schools and colleges too remained closed.
The state Congress called the bandh a success, saying people were rising against the BJD government. However, state health minister and senior BJD leader Damodar Rout said people kept indoors as they were scared of "Congress hooliganism".
Congress leader Jagdish Tytler has been named as the chief accused who incited the crowd to attack on September 6. Tytler has however dared police to arrest him when he lands here on September 13. The police are now studying over 12 hours of video footage to make a watertight case against Tytler.
Official sources said NWC member Charu Wali Khanna will visit the state on September 13 to probe the attack on Pramila Padhi, a woman constable. Padhi also named Tytler as the main accused.
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