The Telegraph
Monday , April 21 , 2014
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Post-poll miseries grip Kendrapara
Voices rise against Sec 144

Kendrapara, April 20: Rajkanika resident Subodh Kumar Mohanty’s son had to appear for the National Defence Academy exam in Cuttack today. On another day, he would have taken a bus to Cuttack. But with prohibitory orders in force throughout the district, he did not want to take a risk and paid Rs 2,000 for a trip by taxi.

“I paid up because I wanted a hassle-free travel for my son,” said Mohanty.

Many parents had similar stories to recount as the administration has clamped Section 144 following Friday’s violence in Aul that left one person dead and four others injured.

“My son was to appear for an entrance examination for the CBSE Plus Two science in the state capital. As few buses plied today, I had to hire a taxi,” said Ram Prasad Sahu, who lives in Kendrapara town.

The miseries of the people living in the rural areas multiplied.

“Most of the bus owners have stopped plying their vehicles. The autos are fleecing commuters. I had to cough up Rs 300 to reach Kendrapara from Pattamundai, a distance of 20 odd kilometres. The actual fare is hardly Rs 10,” remarked Ardhendu Mishra of Pattamundai.

Also affected were businessmen, including small-time vendors.

“There is a 50 per cent dip in the number of buyers because of heat and a curfew-like situation,” said Rabindra Jena, a retail shop owner in Kendrapara.

The vegetable mandi in Gop Chowk on the outskirts of Kendrapara town is also facing similar problems.

“The vegetables from here are much in demand in neighbouring Paradip township. But traders from the port town have stopped coming. For the past two days, we have been suffering major losses,” said a vegetable wholesale trader Ramakant Sabat.

While prohibitory orders are in force since yesterday, the police arrested three Congress workers from Aul area in connection with the Friday’s violence.

The police have also launched a manhunt to nab the people who beat Marshaghai BDO after an EVM-laden vehicle was found parked outside his residence.

Kendrapara looked like a township under siege by the security forces even as people across the district bore the brunt of prohibitory orders.

The daily inflow of commuters to Kendrapara town has dropped considerably. With a skeletal bus service on the roads, the common people are the worst hit. The students appearing for competitive examinations are suffering.

However, common people are beginning to resent the prohibitory orders.

“The administration should immediately lift it. The situation is not that bad to impose such restrictions.,” said district bar association president Dhruba Charan Jena.

He said that the handling of the situation that arose in the wake of the EVM incident was inept. “The place where the BDO was beaten up was hardy 100 metre from the nearest police station and 500 metre from the district collectorate. But it took the collector and the police chief over two and a half hours to reach there. Imposing prohibitory orders was a knee-jerk reaction,” he said.

Incidentally, the district collector is new to the place. He was appointed last week at the behest of the Election Commission following allegations from the Opposition that his predecessor was biased towards them.

The prohibitory orders were issued as the administration expected widespread protests in the district. With the BJP crying foul and accusing the district administration of trying to play foul, the authorities decided to impose prohibitory orders.

“The situation could have been averted, had the administration acted promptly,” said another resident.