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VHP bandh hits normal life in Orissa

August 25, 2008 11:31 IST

Normal life was affected across Orissa on Monday due to the 12-hour bandh call given by saffron outfits, including ruling coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party, to protest the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati.

There were reports of stray incidents of violence from communally-sensitive Kandhamal, where the VHP leader and four others were gunned down by a group of armed persons on Saturday.

Elsewhere, the situation was peaceful as the state government has made elaborate security arrangements to ensure peace during the bandh.

In Bhubaneswar, activists of saffron organisations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal fanned out in large numbers and enforced the dawn-to-dusk bandh. They were also seen blocking important roads and intersections.

Vehicular movement virtually came to a halt as the protesters erected barricades and obstructed traffic by burning tyres on the roads, making it difficult for office goers and others to proceed to their work places.

Public transport was paralysed as buses, taxis and autorickshaws kept off the roads. Saffron activists even tried to stop bicycles.

The bandh supporters blocked railway tracks at several places, affecting train services.

While the state government ordered closure of schools, colleges and other educational institutions, government offices and banks recorded thin attendance. Shops and business establishments remained closed.

Similar situation was reported from Cuttack, Sambalpur, Berhampur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Angul and Puri.

Laxmananada's body was taken from the Ashram School for Girls at Jalespeta, where he was killed, to the Swamiji's main ashram at Chakapada, which is 70 kms away, for the last rites.

Security personnel in strength were deployed in sensitive areas, particularly churches, prayer houses and missionary institutions, in Kandhamal as well as in other tribal-dominated districts of Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh and Keonjhar, police said.

VHP leader Praveen Togadia and other top leaders of saffron outfits will attend Laxmananda's last rites later in the day.

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