The day-long shutdown called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to protest against the ban on the entry of its top leader Pravin Togadia hit normal life in Odisha’s Kandhamal district Saturday, police said.
People and commercial vehicles stayed off the roads in most places including the district headquarter town of Phulbani. Shops, hotels and business establishments also downed shutters, district superintendent of police Kanwar Vishal Singh told.
“Some shops are opened here and there. Although four wheelers stayed off the roads, bikes and two wheelers are operating as usual. Emergency services such as hospitals were operating normally. The shutdown has remained uneventful so far,” he said. Togadia was scheduled to address a gathering of VHP supporters at Phulbani Saturday.
The VHP called the shutdown after authorities imposed a ban on Togadia’s entry into the district following apprehension that it might disturb the peace. VHP leader Bhagaban Mohanty accused the local administration of double standards. “While it had allowed Christian missionaries to hold meetings in the region in the past, we do not understand why it restricted Togadia,” he said.
At least 38 people were killed and thousands had to flee their homes following widespread communal violence in the region in 2008 after the murder of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Different Christian groups had moved the local and state administration seeking a ban on the proposed visit of Togadia, saying his fiery speeches might upset the fragile peace between communities. (IANS)