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Lawyers' bandh shuts down western Odisha
May, 08th 2012

The 12-hour lawyers' bandh threw life out of gear in western Odisha on Tuesday. While government offices, courts, business establishment, banks and other financial institutions remained closed, lawyers in several places stopped magistrates from entering court premises. In Sambalpur, the office of the RDC, collector and IG of police remained closed because of picketing by lawyers.

However, buses and trains ran normally as lawyers had decided to exclude these services for the benefit of common people. The bandh was successful in Rourkela, Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Sonepur, Deogarh and Balangir districts. The Balangir bar also extended whole-hearted support to the bandh and several members of the bar came out to the street.

Extending support to the bandh, members of the high court bar association boycotted court proceedings on Tuesday. Lawyers abstained from court work as a result of which the high court, criminal court , civil court and other lower courts in Bhubaneswar turned defunct.

"Expressing solidarity with our counterparts in Sambalpur, we have decided to boycott court proceedings today. Atleast 147 bar associations across the state have extended their support to the bandh call," said Piyush Mishra, secretary of high court bar association.

Political parties and mass organizations also extended their support. The members of Sambalpur Uthadokani Sangha came in a procession and joined the lawyers at Kacheri Chowk. "We have closed down our shops en masse in support of the lawyers," president of the sangha Satish Bisi said.

On the other hand, the bandh was partially successful in the small towns of western Odisha. "Shops, business establishments, schools, colleges, banks and offices remained closed in Kuchinda, Radhakhol, Padmapur, Sohela, Patnagarh and Barpali during the 12-hour shut-down called by the central action committee of the Western Orissa Lawyers Association," a senior police officer of Sambalpur police range said. According to him, elaborate police arrangement was made in most of the towns. "The bandh was completely peaceful and no untoward incident was reported so far," he said.

Reacting to the success of the bandh, president of the Sambalpur bar Pramod Rath said it reflected common people's unhappiness with the decision of the government to not take action against the collector. "The government should let law take its own course. When police arrested us on the complaint of the collector and DSR, the same law should be applicable for the collector. Why would she not be arrested when a case has been pending against her?," Rath questioned.

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