Normal life was thrown out of gear in Odisha on Monday due to a 12-hour statewide shutdown call given by the Congress in protest against alleged police excesses on its workers during the party’s anti-government rally on Thursday.
Police arrested about 2500 Congress workers including top leaders like state president Niranjan Patnaik, leader of the opposition Bhupinder Singh and former chief minister Hemananda Biswal, as a preventive measure.
Shops, commercial establishments and educational institutions remained closed and road and rail traffic were disrupted across the state as a result of picketing by thousands of Congress workers, who burned tyres and effigies of chief minister Naveen Patnaik on roads, squatted on railway tracks and took out processions shouting anti-government slogans.
Police said except burning of a bus in the capital, no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state.
"We are overwhelmed with the complete shutdown. This is an endorsement by people of Odisha to our protest against police excesses on Congress workers, including women, during the rally," Niranjan Patnaik said before being taken into custody by the police.
Odisha health minister termed the shutdown as unimpressive. "The shops were closed due to fear," he said.
Thursday's rally to protest against the Odisha government's involvement in scams relating to mining and coal blocks had taken a violent turn after thousands of Congress workers tried to storm the assembly. During the five-hour clash, the police had to use water cannons, tear gas and charge batons to disperse the crowd.
While many protesters got injured, a mob assaulted Pramila Padhi, 39, a policewoman on guard duty for some women Congress leaders. The police have arrested 35 persons, including some who assaulted Padhi, and lodged FIRs against Congress leaders including Jagdish Tytler, central leader incharge of Odisha, and Patnaik for criminal offences including attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy. The Congress too has given complaints against policemen and chief minister Patnaik for using force on a democratic meeting.