Normal life was thrown out of gear in Odisha as the Congress on Friday called a shutdown protesting against the mismanagement of “Brahma Parivartan” rituals at the Jagannath temple in Puri. Train and bus services were affected as Congress activists staged blockades at several places including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Balasore, Bolangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur and Sambalpur.
Several trains were stopped at different railway stations by Congress workers while bus and other transport services remained off the road. Essential services like health services in hospitals and ‘nabakelabara’ works were, however, exempted from the bandh, said a Congress leader.
While vehicular traffic came to a grinding halt, business and trading establishments remained closed in most parts of the state. Banks, government and private organisations remained closed at several places as well.
The agitators conducted picketing at several places in the state capital and burnt tyres on the roads to mark their protest. Several leaders including Pradesh Congress President Prasad Harichandan, senior leaders Jayadev Jena, Bhakta Charan Das, Ranjib Biswal, Suresh Routray, party deputy in-charge Subhankar Sarkar and several others courted arrested, said a senior police official.
“The state government is completely responsible for the mismanagement of ‘Brahma Paribartan’. We demand a judicial probe to inquire and the resignation of the law minister and the temple chief administrator,” said PCC president Prasad Harichandan.
He expressed his gratitude to the people of Odisha for making the bandh a success. The agitators damaged some vehicles at certain places, causing problems for commuters. Many cars, auto-rickshaws, trucks and motorcycles were damaged. Several fuel stations were ransacked. A tourist bus from Tamil Nadu was allegedly came under attack and tourists were beaten up. The angry residents torched two bikes of Congress activists at Shastrinagar, Bhubaneswar.
The idols of four deities in the 12th century temple were replaced on June 16 with new ones after 19 years. The “Ghata Parivartan” or “Brahma Sthapan” ritual involves the infusion of soul from the old ones into the new.
Mudslinging erupted among the political parties, administration and temple servitors after there was an inordinate delay in performing the ritual. (With inputs from IANS)