Bhubaneswar, Sep 20 (IANS) The opposition shutdown Thursday against the reforms rolled out by the central government crippled life in many parts of Odisha as passenger and commercial vehicles went off the roads while train services were also affected.
Shops downed their shutters in many cities, including Cuttack, the main retail business hub of the state.
Government and private offices, schools, colleges, banks, and other financial institutions also remained shut. Protestors also carried out rallies, marches and demonstrations at different places.
"The shutdown was complete and successful. People on their own responded to the call and observed the bandh," Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Jual Oram told IANS.
"The protests have been peaceful. No untoward incidents have so far been reported from any part of the state," a senior official of the state home department told IANS, adding hundreds of protestors courted arrest in different places during the strike.
Passengers faced difficulties as train services were disrupted as protestors squatted on tracks at different places. This forced many trains to be stranded at railway stations.
As many as 24 trains operating under the jurisdiction of Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway were cancelled due to demonstrations by the protestors, a senior official said. At least a dozen other trains were regulated or terminated well ahead of their destination.
In state capital Bhubaneswar and its neighbouring Cuttack city, activists of the BJP and Left parties separately marched in processions, shouting anti-government slogans.
The shutdown, however, had less impact in western parts of the state, including Sambalpur and Bolangir town, as the annual harvest festival of Nuakhai is underway in the region and parties had decided not to enforce the shutdown.
The opposition parties had called for nationwide shutdown to protest the centre's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail sector, to raise diesel prices and to cap supply of subsidised cooking gas cylinders to six per family per year.
In Odisha, nine non-Congress political parties, including the Left parties and the BJP, and traders had separately called for the shutdown.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal, however, stayed away from the strike, saying that it will cause inconvenience to the people who are celebrating the harvest festival.