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Shutdown against fuel price hike hits Orissa

Bhubaneswar, July 5 (IANS) The dawn-to-dusk shutdown by non-Congress parties began Monday, affecting normal life in Orissa as road and rail services were hit in the state, officials said.

‘The movement of vehicles in both the state and the national highway has been totally affected,’ a senior police officer told IANS.

Several trains were running late as protesters sat on rail tracks and obstructed trains at various railway stations.

In major cities, including state capital Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur, protesters marched as the day began.

They shouted slogans against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Also, hundreds of political activists staged protest in front of the central government organisations.

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

In Orissa, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and its allies are participating in the nationwide shutdown called by political parties marking the first unified showdown since the Congress returned to power last year.

Last week, 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.

The Biju Patnaik University of Technology and the Utkal University in Orissa have postponed their exams due to the shutdown. The Biju Patnaik University of Technology rescheduled its fourth semester exams of various engineering courses to July 10.

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