Bhubaneswar, May 16: Hundreds of people waited in vain for buses at different places in Malkangiri, Koraput and Rayagada districts as a dawn-to-dusk nationwide strike, called by Maoists, today hit public transport and trade and commerce in many parts of southern and western Odisha.
Passengers, stranded at Jeypore bus terminus in Koraput district, one of the largest in the state, were seen trying to hire taxis and trekkers to reach their destinations as both government and private buses kept off the road for fear of being attacked by the rebels.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today appealed to the Maoists to return to the mainstream and work with others to ensure the development of the state.
The Srikakulam-Koraput divisional committee of the CPI(Maoist) had called the strike to oppose the National Counter Terrorism Centre and Operation Greenhunt. The Maoists are also demanding withdrawal of CRPF camps from their areas of operation. Sources said commuters also suffered at places such as Malkangiri and Gajapati, where even short-distance bus services were suspended as the rebels had blocked roads at several places by felling trees. The authorities had also been warned against possibility of the Maoists having mined the roads.
However, the shutdown impact was partial in Kandhamal, Nabarangpur and Ganjam districts with police and paramilitary forces intensifying patrol. Shops and business establishments were open in areas such as Daringbadi and Phulbani in Kandhamal district where private buses plied.
Security was tight in all the Maoist-affected districts of the state in view of the strike.
Fortunately for the government, the Odisha Police Havildar Constable and Sepoys Confederation decided to postpone its decision to fast on duty for three days from today before going on indefinite mass leave to protest against the “unacceptable behaviour” of a senior police officer.
The confederation represents 55,000 policemen, including members of the Odisha State Armed Police. President of the body Padmanav Behera said the agitation plan had been kept in abeyance till May 30 in view of the Maoist strike.
“The decision was taken in view of the law and order exigency arising out of the shutdown today and the positive outcome of discussions with the director-general of police yesterday,” he said.