BJD activists resort to widespread hooliganism after calling a bandh to protest fuel prices

On 18th September, ruling party of Odisha, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) called for a “State wide agitation” against central government to protest against the rising prices of petroleum products.

The party had released an official statement regarding this on 15th September. The statement said that, even though crude prices have reduced in the international market, our country is seeing an increase, which is a burden on common people. The party as a result will hit the roads to protest against this.

The situation on ground turned ugly from early Monday morning as BJD activists started blocking roads and resorted to hooliganism. They blocked various arterial roads of the capital city, forcing office goers to stay inside. Alert citizens and journalists posted photos and videos of various BJD activists beating up people, vandalising property and blocking general through fares. At some places, BJD activists even stopped trains with help from local MLAs, some of whom were later detained by the police.

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BJD Activists stopping a train at SBP, Sambalpur MLA Dr. (Mrs) Raseswari Panigrahi also seen in the picture
Photo Courtesy (Ashok Pradhan)

The violence also included goons terrorising school going children:

All this didn’t go down well with the Odia tweeples. While, BJD’s social media influencers tried to trend #HakPainHartal translating to “Hartal for rights”, people questioned whose right they are fighting for by threatening common people:

Few incidents in particular did not go down well with public. In one such incident, BJD activists misbehaved with a women in full public view:

In other such incidents, BJD activists didn’t allow several ambulances to pass through. A patient requiring emergency care for his eyes, was not allowed to reach the hospital. After the video describing his ordeal reached the masses, anger against the ruling dispensation rose even further:

The goons didn’t even spare old people. A lady, who was driving her father in law to a nearby hospital was stopped midway, attacked with rods and her windshield was broken. She took it to Twitter to reach out to party supremo Shri Naveen Patnaik and told him that he lost her respect:

There were other incidents of attacks on aged people as well:

Many parents also faced an ordeal as yesterday was an exam day in several schools:

Even as enraged twitter users were venting their anger against the ruling dispensation for turning a deaf ear to the situation, BJD President Naveen Patnaik failed to pay heed and give an official statement.

However, party MP and senior leader Baijayanta Panda took to social media to express his dissatisfaction over the emerging situation. He termed it shameful and dissociated himself from those activities.

He said that, protests should be meaningful and peaceful without resorting to violence. He posted a photo of his earlier days, where he is seen protesting against the UPA government of 2010 sitting alongside former party MP and Naveen Patnaik’s bête noire Late Shri Pyari Mohan Moahapatra. He termed the current bandh as anti people:

He further added that the party he helped found, never had violence as one of it’s principle:

Union cabinet minister Dharmendra Pradhan also condemned the incident. He however gave it a spin by claiming that the BJD was resorting to violence to oppose BJP and his own rise in the state. He said that, in a democracy everyone has a right to dissent but any form of violence is condemnable and nobody is above law.

He further added that, “The local party can abuse me at a personal level to which I don’t have an objection, but to harass common people and even women to vent their ire against me is deplorable. In a democracy, people are the jury.”

After the favourable Panchayat election results and BJP’s national executive meet, the state unit of BJP is in election mode and has upped it’s game. Party president Amit Shah has visited the state several times and recently launched mission 120+, when he claimed that BJP is going to form the next government in state with full majority. Union cabinet minister Dharmendra Pradhan is now seen very frequently in the state attending a large number of public meetings and inauguration events.

Even Congress is trying to revive itself. Top leaders recently camped in New Delhi and met Rahul Gandhi.

While BJD has earlier protested against various policies of central government it was never accompanied by this kind of large scale bandh and violence. Some are guessing this to be party’s nervousness at the rising political heat in the state. While a healthy competition between political parties surely benefits the common man, one only hopes that the common man is not affected in this game of one-upmanship between political parties.

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