Bhubaneswar: The five-hour hartal call given by the ruling BJD on Monday in Odisha protesting against the petrol and diesel price hike turned violent with party workers unleashing a ‘reign of terror’ in Bhubaneswar and other parts of the state.
Lathi-wielding BJD workers smashed the front and rear windshields of cars and auto-rickshaws and man-handled parents and guardians dropping off their children on two-wheelers to schools.
At several places, the unruly protestors stopped ambulances carrying patients and prevented elderly persons going by auto-rickshaws to hospitals, leading to Congress and BJP leaders condemning the act.
At Raj Bhawan Square, BJD workers clashed with BJP leaders sitting on a day-long dharna demanding waiver of farm loans. The police intervened before the tussle turned ugly. All major roads were blocked across Bhubaneswar and major junctions were shut by party picketers.
At Rajmahal Square, the protesters misbehaved with a senior citizen travelling in an auto-rickshaw despite him pleading that he was going to the hospital. Similarly, a couple on their way to school were stopped and asked to take another route. When the woman protested she was misbehaved with and her husband was reportedly beaten up when he objected.
Another woman Sagarika Kar was taking her ailing father-in-law to the hospital when she was attacked by the protestors who smashed her car. “Dear CM, I was taking my father-in-law to the hospital. Your party workers attacked and damaged my car. You have lost my respect,” Ms Kar tweeted to Chief Minister Patnaik.
“In the name of hartal, the BJD unleashed a reign of terror. We will fight it politically,” said BJP vice president Sameer Mohanty. Journalists too were not allowed to commute on the main roads and were misbehaved with. Incidents of violence were reported from almost all districts while schools and colleges, railway services and public life were disrupted.
Local TV channels aired the vandalism and leaders became defensive that the party was not involved. “Our party does not believe in violence. Public became violent,” said BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra....