Red bandh brake on traffic in southern districts

KORAPUT: Traffic remained paralyzed in several areas in southern Odisha on Thursday, the second day of the statewide Maoist bandh. The Maoist’s Odisha State Organising Committee (OSOC) had called the two-day strike to demand halting of Operation Green Hunt and alleged state oppression of tribals.

Though no Maoist offensive was reported in Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Nabarangpur districts, vehicular movement was hit in Ragada district’s Muniguda area and Lamataput and Onkadeli in Koraput district. Apprehending rebel attacks, all government buses plying from Jeypore to Bhubaneswar via Rayagada diverted their routes though Andhra Pradesh. Sources said hundreds of passengers were stranded at several bus-stops in Rayagada and Koraput districts.

While offices witnessed thin attendance, it was an unofficial holiday for several schools in Koraput’s Onkadeli panchayat area. Police, however, claimed that the Maoist bandh call had evoked lesser response this time.

“Apart from a few areas where traffic was affected, all other life activities remained unaffected. Though no Maoist violence was reported, but we can’t be complacent. Security forces are kept on extra alert to avoid any eventuality,” said DIG Saumeyendra Priyadarsi. Contrary to earlier rebel-sponsored protests, there was no impact of the shutdown in Maoist-affected Malkangiri district.

While traffic remained normal across the district, markets, offices and schools remained open. A senior police officer involved in anti-Maoist operations reasoned that Malkangiri district was dominated by leaders from Andhra Pradesh. But the rest of the districts were under the sway of the Basadhara division of the CPI (Maoist).

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