Hundreds court arrest in Orissa

Bhubaneswar, July 5 (IANS) Hundreds of activists of non-Congress parties courted arrest in Orissa Monday during a dawn-to-dusk nationwide shutdown to protest against the fuel price hike in India.

Activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Biju Janta Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) offered themselves for arrest during separate protests here.

‘The number who courted arrest across Orissa would be at least 1,000,’ Inspector General of Police Arun Sarangi told IANS.

Life was affected across Orissa as road and rail services were hit.

The movement of vehicles in both state and the national highways were affected. Several trains ran late as protesters squatted on rail tracks and obstructed trains at railway stations.

In Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur, protesters marched on the streets. They shouted slogans against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Also, hundreds of political activists staged protest in front of central government organisations.

Although the state government had not ordered closure of schools and colleges, most witnessed thin attendance.

The Biju Patnaik University of Technology and the Utkal University postponed their exams.

Shops and small businesses were closed across the state, but operations were normal in major commercial establishments including Nalco and Paradip ports.

‘There was no disruption in major factories and mines,’ Sarangi said.

In Orissa, the ruling BJD joined hands with non-Congress opposition parties to make the strike a success.

The central government ended government curbs on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. The price of diesel went up by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre, petrol by Rs.3.50 a litre, and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

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