A near-complete shutdown was observed across Odisha Thursday in response to the call by various political parties, including the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), against the recent hike in petrol price, officials here said.
Protesters squatted on rail tracks at various railway stations in the state, forcing the railway authorities to cancel as many as 18 local passenger trains. Roads and highways in several areas bore a deserted look as commercial and passenger vehicles remained off the road.
"Due to protests at various stations, the train services on the Howrah-Chennai main line and branch lines have been totally disrupted," a senior official of the East Coast Railway headquarters here said.
Hundreds of protesters courted arrest in Bhubaneswar after obstructing trains, blocking roads and picketing government and private offices, Bhubaneswar Deputy Commissioner of Police Nitinjit Singh told IANS.
Barring the movement of motorcycles and ambulances, all other vehicles nearly stopped plying across the state, including in towns like Sambalpur, Rourkela, Berhampur, Cuttack, Jharsuguda and Balangir, a senior official at the police headquarters in Cuttack, about 25 km from here, said.
Thin attendance was observed in most of the government and private offices. Educational institutions, banks and shops remained closed in many parts of the state, he added.
"There has been no report of any untoward incident from any part of the state so far. The protests have been peaceful," the police official said.
The state units of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties have been organising separate protests across the state.
"It was a complete shutdown. People have spontaneously joined the protest," Communist Party of India leader Narayan Reddy said.