Bandh in Keonjhar to oppose greater Jharkhand demand

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Bhubaneswar, Jul 31 (UNI) Life in mineral-rich Keonjhar district in Orissa was paralysed today following a dawn to dusk bandh to protest against JMM's demand to merge three Orissa districts with Jharkhand.

All business establishments, educational institutions and government offices remained closed and vehicles were off the roads.

The bandh was called by the ruling Biju Janata Dal(BJD).

This was the second strike in the last one week in the district as a protest by the political parties against the greater Jharkhand concept mooted by JMM leader Shibu Soren.

Earlier, BJP, the alliance partner of the BJD, also sponsored a bandh to oppose the division of Orissa.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has reiterated that his government would not allow the Congress-led UPA government to divide the state.

The Congress was conspiring to separate three districts from Orissa to be merged with Jharkhand as proposed by the JMM, but ''we will not allow it to succeed,'' Mr Patnaik said while addressing the BJD's youth and student wing convention here yesterday.

The concept of greater Jharkhand was one of JMM's 15-point agenda, submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in exchange for the party's support to the UPA government during the trial of strength in Parliament on July 22.

''The UPA government, which won the July 22 trust vote by using money power, had garnered the support of the JMM by agreeing to its leader Shibu Soren's demand,'' Mr Patnaik alleged.

Mr Soren while justifying his party's demand of greater Jharkhand had claimed that the Centre had assured him to consider the demand.

Three Orissa districts of Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh and Keonjhar have been proposed by the JMM leader to be merged with Jharkhand to pave the path for a greater Jharkhand.

Soren's demand also saw vociferous opposition from the people of Mayurbhanj who had observed a bandh call last week in the district.

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