Opposition activists lock up Odisha WCD minister in govt bungalow during Kuchinda bandh

“We picked up the protestors to maintain the law and order situation.”

Opposition Congress and BJP workers gheraoed Odisha Women and Child Development Minister Tukuni Sahu and kept her confined for hours in a government bungalow at Kuchinda township here on Wednesday during a 12-hour shutdown by the two parties against the attack on their workers by alleged ruling BJD activists during a visit by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Ms. Sahu was in Kuchinda to distribute smart health cards under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, which was launched in the district by Mr. Patnaik on Tuesday.

The opposition parties workers rushed to the bungalow when the minister was chairing a meeting of officers there before attending a programme to distribute smart health cards and locked the main gate forcing her to be confined there, the police said.

They raised slogans against the government for Tuesday’s attack by BJD workers on Congress and BJP activists who were demonstrating during the chief minister’s visit to press their demand for the removal of Minister of State for Home D.S. Mishra in the Kalahandi woman teacher kidnap and murder case.

As Ms. Sahu was forced to stay in bungalow for hours, the local police rushed to it and picked up the protestors.

"We picked up the protestors to maintain the law and order situation as the ruling BJD activists had also reached the place," he said.

Ravi Naik, the BJP state general secretary was among those picked up by the police.

BJP and Congress had separately called the 12-hour Kuchinda bandh after the president of the Kuchinda Youth Congress unit, Jayant Kishan was beaten up mercilessly by a group of people allegedly members of BJD on Tuesday. Mr. Kishan is still in hospital.

The bandh evoked partial response in the township as the business community of the area did not extend support in view of Dhanteras and Diwali festivals.

Mr. Naik told reporters before being picked up by the police that the BJP workers were holding demonstration when the BJD goons attacked them during the chief minister’s visit on Tuesday. "This is gundaraj by the BJD and the police administration had turned a mute spectator to the attack on the opposition party activists. We have therefore called for the bandh from 6 a.m. on Wednesday”.

Congress leader Rajendra Kumar Chhatria echoed him and said that the party gave the bandh call to protest against BJD’s “gundaraj”.

Mr. Misra is being accused by the opposition parties of being close to the prime accused in the Kalahandi teacher murder case and even helping him to esacpe from police custody on October 17 night, nine days after the crime.

The minister has denied the allegations and has claimed that he had no role in the crime. However, he did not say anything on his alleged link with the prime accused in his two-page statement clarifying his position.

Meanwhile, a report from Ganjam said that Odisha Speaker S.N. Patro and BJD Berhampur MP Chandrasekhar Sahu were also gheraoed by locals at Tikarpada village in Digapahandi when they went there to inaugurate the smart classroom of the village school and a new building of Mission Shakti.

The villagers gheraoed their convoy for about two hours alleging negligence of the development of the area by the state government. The villagers said that Tikarpada lacks a motorable road till and the government welfare schemes had failed to help the beneficiaries.

A scuffle took place between them and the police who were deployed there when the force personnel tried to forcibly take away the two dignitaries. Patro and Sahu were, however, later allowed to go by the villagers after they assured that they will look into their grievances.

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