Shutdown called by Congress hits normal life in Odisha

Bhubaneswar : Normal life was paralysed on Saturday in eight KBK districts of Odisha by a dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the Congress party to push for “proper implementation” of the Forest Rights Act 2006.

The party also protested against the arrest of former Nabarangapur MP Pradeep Majhi and his associates.

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Shops and business establishments remained closed in eight undivided KBK districts: Kalahandi, Bolangir, Koraput, Sonepur, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada.

The Congress workers blocked roads by burning tyres and picketed many places, bringing traffic to a halt.

“The state government is taking credit by distributing land pattas to more than three lakh tribals. But in reality, the government has not executed the Forest Rights Act properly,” Congress leader and former Kalahandi MP Bhakta Das said.

The state government has betrayed the tribal people by giving only pattas while there was no identification of land, he said.

Das said the state government sent the Congress demonstrators to jail to suppress their voice.

Former Nabarangpur MP Pradeep Majhi and 18 other Congress workers were arrested on June 25 for allegedly ransacking a range office of the forest department during a demonstration demanding land pattas for tribals.

They were released on conditional bail on Saturday.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Prasad Harichandan claimed that the shutdown was successful.

He said people spontaneously participated in the movement to show their support for the cause.

Rabi Narayan Nanda, a leader of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), said the Congress party is shedding crocodile tears.

He said the shutdown call given by the opposition party has had no effect in KBK districts as the tribals are always with the government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.