They are demanding a permanent bench of the High Court

A dawn-to-dusk bandh call by lawyers demanding establishment of permanent bench of Odisha High Court in their region paralysed normal life in undivided Koraput district on Wednesday.

Lawyers of Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts took part in this bandh. They got united under the banner of ‘Undivided Koraput Scheduled District Advocates Joint Action Coordination Committee’.

Except Rayagada town this bandh call had its effect at most places of the four districts as it had active involvement of bar associations of all the four districts. But Rayagada town was excluded from this bandh call. “Rayagada town was excluded as in recent past several bandhs had been observed in this town for different reasons and we did not want to make the locals of this town suffer due to another bandh,” said member of the coordination committee, Prabhakar Patnaik.

But bandh was observed at other major town of Rayagada district, Gunupur by the local bar association.

All schools, colleges, shops, banks and business establishments remained closed in all parts of these four districts except Rayagada town. Vehicular traffic was completely disrupted. Movement of vehicles on NH26 that passes through undivided Koraput district was also stopped. The agitators of Koraput Bar Association held rail roko at Koraput station due to which Hirakhand Express and Samaleswari Express were stranded at Koraput.

Courts in these four districts did not function. Lawyers picketed State and Central government offices. Till evening there were no reports of any untoward incidents from any part. In the evening different bar associations took out rallies in demand for permanent bench of the High Court.

The ‘Undivided Koraput Scheduled District Advocates Joint Action Coordination Committee’ would hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss future course of action.

As per the agitating lawyers places in undivided Koraput district were at distance of 700 kilometers or more from the High Court in Cuttack. Moreover, these districts are tribal-dominated. "There should be a permanent HC bench in this region for the benefit of the poor and common men of the scheduled area which has been neglected in several ways," said Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, president of Koraput Bar Association.