Correspondent

Buses remain off the road, train traffic worst-hit

Thin attendance in government offices

CUTTACK: More than 500 activists of Left parties courted arrest in as many eight places here on Friday protesting against the fuel price hike.

Members of the CPI(M), the CPI and the Forward Bloc picketed and staged demonstration at the railway station, Badambadi bus terminus, Howrah Motor Square, High Court Square, Buxi Bazaar Square, on NH-5 at Sikharpur, Nuabazar and Jagatpur.

Among those who courted arrest include CPI(M) leaders Subash Singh and Jayadev Jena, CPI leaders Suresh Barik and Amarendu Mohanty and Forward Bloc leader Santosh Mitra. All the arrested were taken to Barabati Stadium from where they were released in the afternoon.

The leaders claimed that more than 90 per cent of private buses remained off the road while shops and business establishments downed shutters in the main market.

Government establishments witnessed thin attendances while banks functioned normally, except branches of the SBI, which called strike earlier over some grievances.

Railway traffic in the State also suffered following the bandh.

While the traffic was affected due to similar agitations in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, local trains were detained at many places.

Railway police sources said that at least 20 CPI(M) activists were arrested under Section 151 of the CrPC at Jajpur-Keonjhar Road railway station when they started picketing the Coromandel Express.

Trains stopped

Railway SP Paresh Ray said that some 20 demonstrators led by local leader Ali Patnaik stopped the Berhampur-Bhadrak DMU from 8.30 a.m. to 11.45 a.m.

Similarly, another group of activists, including seven women, stopped the Kharagpur-Khurda Road fast passenger at Jaleswar station. They also stopped the Jagannath Express at the station from 7 a.m. to 11.45 a.m.

At Balasore station, the activists of the CITU and the JMM stopped the Bagha Jatin passenger and the Guwahati-Bangalore Express. The trains, however, left at 11.45 a.m., the SP said.

At Cuttack and Bhubaneswar railway stations, the Left party activists demonstrated for a brief period where the Tapaswini Express and the Hirakhand Express were controlled respectively.

The Puri-Palasa Express was also detained from 9.35 a.m. to 9.50 a.m. at Khurda Road junction where some activists led by local CPI(M) leader Rajendra Panda picketed.