Red bandh evokes partial response

BERHAMPUR: Road communication in southern Odisha’s Maoist affected areas was disrupted on Tuesday owing to a 24-hour bandh call given by the Red rebels. The Odisha Maoibadi Party (OMP) led by Sabyasachi Panda had called a state-wide bandh while the Bansadhara Division of the CPI (Maoists) called for shut down in four southern districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal and Rayagada in protest against the November 14 encounter. Public transport was totally paralysed in the Maoist-infested areas in the four districts, while shops and business establishments downed their shutters. The Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) suspended its buses in 13 long routes due to the bandh, while private bus owners did not operate their vehicles in Maoist areas.

“We have suspended all the vehicles in the route via Adava in Gajapati district from mid-night of Monday,” said district transport manager, OSRTC’s Berhampur division, A K Mishra. The buses were suspended in the route because the Maoists had brunt four of their buses at Raipanka on December 27, 2009, he said. While the bandh evoked a response in the Maoist infested rural areas, it did not affect the urban areas, sources said. The bandh was total in Daringibadi, Kotagarh and Bramhanigaon areas in Kandhamal district, sources added. There was no untoward incident however reported in the bandh-bound districts, said DIG (southern range) R K Sharma. Security was tightened in the vulnerable areas of the districts with deployment of forces. Patrolling was also intensified in several areas by police, he said. SP (Kandhamal) J N Pankaj said except Bramhanigaon, Kotagarh and Daringibadi areas, there was no effect of the bandh in other areas of the district.

He said forces kept strict vigil on the movements of the Maoists in the district. Vehicles were checked to prevent the movement of the ultras, he said. In Ganjam district there was no effect of the bandh either, said a senior police officer. Meanwhile, combing operation continued in the tri-jungle area in Gajapati-Rayagada-Kandhamal districts by security forces, police said. The combing operation was started in the area in the aftermath of the encounter on November 14, sources said. The Maoists’ bandh came in the wake of killing of five persons of Kandhamal district (four from Bramhanigaon and one from Tikabali area) in police encounter at Bhaliaguda under Gajapati district’s Mohana police station limit.

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