23 January, Bhubaneswar
The opposition Congress and BJP on Tuesday announced a dawn-to-dusk shutdown across Odisha on Wednesday to protest against the death of the Kunduli gang rape victim and blamed the state government for it.
Both parties said that emergency services, including plying of ambulances and opening of medical stores, would be exempted. Students appearing in various examinations would also be allowed to proceed.
The minor girl, allegedly gang raped by securitymen on October 10 last year, hanged herself at her house in Sorisapadar village in Koraput district on Monday.
The girl was sexually assaulted when she was returning from Kunduli market near her village.
While the Congress state unit announced a 12-hour bandh from 6 a.m. across Odisha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit said it too would organise a 12-hour ‘hartal’.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Prasad Harichandan appealed to the state’s people for cooperation in making the shutdown a success.
Demanding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s resignation on moral grounds, he accused the state government of failing to probe the case and arrest the culprits.
State BJP General Secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said the party will strike across the state to protest government inaction.
The BJP leader said students slated to appear in examinations would be spared if they show their admit cards.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) accused both parties of “politicising” the issue.
“They are just politicising the issue. It is natural for the opposition to create a hullabaloo over this incident and ask for resignation as it is their job. I request them not to derive any political mileage from this unfortunate incident as it sets a bad precedent,” BJD Spokesperson Pratab Keshari Deb said.
The Commissionerate Police on Tuesday lathicharged BJP activists who staged a protest march to gherao Naveen Niwas, the Chief Minister’s residence, to press for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the girl’s suicide.
Hundreds of BJP workers participated in the protest march from Ram Mandir Chhak to Naveen Niwas here.