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Bajrang Dal flexes muscles

Cuttack, Jan. 24: A large number of people were inconvenienced by a 12-hour bandh called by the Bajrang Dal today.

The outfit was protesting against the decision of Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) to play host to the Pakistani team in the upcoming ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.

Shops remained closed in some parts of the city and the activists indulged in violence at a few places. The protesters ransacked two buses and several autorickshaws in different parts of the city. They also resorted to picketing and burnt tyres at several places.

Santosh Pradhan, 34, had a harrowing time while travelling by a passenger bus that was detained by bandh supporters on the national highway No. 5 near Madhupatna.

“Around four or five persons stopped the bus and took away the keys. As a result, we were stranded on the highway inside the bus for nearly an hour,” said Pradhan.

Police had a tough time in clearing the traffic because the bus was stranded on the middle of the highway. “The activists damaged the rear window of the bus and forcibly took away the keys for which the steering wheel got locked. Only after dismantling the lock panel could we resume the bus service,” said driver Bimal Palei.

The bandh was supported by Utkal Bharat and some other political outfits in the city.

All autorickshaws, city bus and private buses stayed off roads as a precautionary measure while government offices too registered a thin attendance.

Senior police officials said the bandh was by and large peaceful.

“Adequate measures were taken to maintain law and order during the bandh and police personnel were deployed at strategic locations of the city,” said deputy commissioner of police S. Praveen Kumar.

Kumar added that more than 30 activists were taken into preventive custody and were subsequently released in the evening.