Staff Reporter

They have been held on charges of having Maoist links

BERHAMPUR: Private bus workers of Ganjam district held demonstration in the city on Thursday protesting against arrest of a bus conductor along with a journalist in Gajapati district on charges of Maoist links.

It was a joint demonstration by the Ganjam District Bus Workers’ Union and Maa Mahuri Kalua Bus Workers’ Union. They took out a rally from the new bus stand and moved around the city.

They handed over a memorandum in the office of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern division demanding release of their colleague and the journalist arrested for alleged Maoist link at Mohana in Gajapati district.

On Sunday conductor of a private bus, Pradip Kumar Patra and a rural reporter Laxman Choudhury had been arrested by police for their link with a packet which contained some Maoist pamphlets.

Some unidentified person had given this packet to Mr. Patra to be handed over to Mr. Choudhury, whose name was written on the packet.

The demonstrating bus workers said staff of passenger buses usually transported letters and packets in all remote areas of Orissa. People preferred them as it ensures speedy delivery.

“This system works on faith”, said Pramod Kumar Sahu, adviser of the unions. Recent arrest of the conductor would compel the staff of passenger buses to stop this practice and the losers would be the general public living in remote areas, he said.

The bus workers said carrying a letter out of faith was no crime.

They urged the government to withdraw the ‘false’ cases against Mr. Patro and Mr. Choudhury and release them from jail.

They threatened to intensify their agitation if their demand was not fulfilled, which may hamper public transportation.