Bandh in Talcher to protest killing of VHP leader

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Talcher, Aug 24 (UNI) A day before state-wide bandh called by the VHP in protest against the killing of Swami Laxmananada Saraswati by some unidentified assailants at Jalaspata Ashram in Kandhamal district last night, a complete bandh was observed today at Talcher, the birth place of the Swamiji.

The bandh was called jointly by the RSS, BJP and VHP units here.

All industrial activities came to a grinding halt and coal mines stopped functioning in response to the bandh. There was no dispatch of coal by rail or by road. Coal supply to Nalco and NTPC power plants here also was stopped from dawn to dusk.

However, the plants of NTPC and Nalco were not affected by the bandh and were functioning as usual.

The irate people blocked the NH 23 at various places by burning tyres on the road. The villagers of Gurujang the native village of Swamiji, burnt tyre on national highway linking to Rourkela since the morning.

All shops, business establishments and officers were closed.

Meanwhile, irate activists of VHP, RSS and BJP led by Rajya Sabha MP Rudra Narayan Pany blocked the traffic on NH 42 at Angul town for four hours last night in a protest against the murder of the saint.

The bandh was peaceful and no arrest was made said the North Central Range DIG Lalit Dash.

Laxmananada was born in a Brahmin family at Gurujanga near Talcher town in 1926. He renounced his family in 1953 and rushed to the Himalayas for sainthood where he stayed for almost ten years.

On his return, Laxman became Laxmananada and set up his ashram in the tribal dominated Phulbani district in the early 1970s. Later he joined Viswa HIndhu Parishad.

Once in a year on Baisakya purnima he used to come to his native village here to participate a yagna.

He is survived by his 75 year old wife, a son and a daughter-in law and a grand son.

A report from Kendrapara said the VHP observed a two-hour bandh in Kendrapara town to protest the killing.

About one hundred activists led by Bhuban Mohan Jena staged a road blockade by burning tyres at Duhuria, Cuttack-Chandabali road and Paradeep-Daitary Express High way.

Normal life was partially paralysed during the bandh as vehicular traffic came to a standstill during the protest.

Senior VHP activist, Umesh Das blamed the law enforcing machine of Kandhamala for its failure to save the life of the Sawamiji, who was spearheading the anti-conversion movement and campaigning against the cow-slaughter.

The VHP activists decided to intensify its agitation if the authorities failed to arrest the culprits within 24 hours and take stern action against the culprits.

Police deployment was beefed up in the township area to avert any untoward incident in the communal sensitive district.

Round-the-clock patrolling was going on in the district.

UNI XC BD PC RL RAI2121

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