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HENB | Bhubaneswar | 28 Feb 2015:: The day-lengthy (dawn to dusk- 12 hrs) Kandhamal Bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Saturday in protest against the refusal of the State Government to allow VHP international working president Pravin Togadia to enter the district evoked total response. While vehicular traffic came to a standstill, all trade and business establishments, banks, Government offices including the Collectorate office were also closed.
Togadia was scheduled to address a public meeting at the district headquarters town of Phulbani here to mark the golden jubilee celebrations of VHP on Saturday.
Apart from the district headquarters, the bandh was also total in the Daringbadi and Raikia areas. Reports said armed police forces were frisking vehicles at several places in Madhapur, Kalinga, Tumudibandh, Kotagada and Khajuripada to stop entry of VHP leaders to the district. Besides, four platoons of armed police forces, led by DIG Amitabh Thakur, were deployed at Chari Chhak in Boudh bordering Kandhamal district to stop entry of VHP activists from outside the district.
VHP and Bajrang Dal activists, seen picketing in front of government offices and commercial establishments, however exempted emergency services and school students from the shutdown.
“We have deployed personnel at sensitive areas to maintain law and order and are keeping a watch on the situation,” Kandhamal superintendent of police KV Singh said.
VHP leader Paresh Mahapatra said the administration was biased against them to appease Christian missionaries. “The administration banned Togadia, when in the past they have allowed Christian leaders to hold meetings,” Mohapatra alleged.
Describing the bandh as a success, VHP’s East Zone Assistant Secretary, Priyanath Sharma said it was observed in a peaceful manner in protest against the administration’s decision to ban Togadia’s visit to the district which was completely undemocratic.
The district, having a sizable chunk of Christian population, has a history of communal violence. Anti-Christian riots left at least 38 dead and thousands displaced in 2008 after the murder of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati.
The district administration had clamped a seven-day ban on Togadia’s entry from Thursday evening after a Christian group wrote to chief minister Naveen Patnaik, opposing the hardline Hindu leader’s address in Kandhamal’s district headquarter.
According to Kandhamal Collector N Thirumala Nayak, the district administration took all requisite measures to prevent any untoward incident during the bandh. Adequate security was provided to all churches in the district, he said. He also said the High School Certificate (HSC) examinations went on smoothly all over the district in the day. Kandhamal VHP leader Bhagaban Mohanty expressed his profound gratitude to the people for their support in making the bandh a total success. The BJP district unit also joined the bandh call.
Being censored by Biju Janta Dal Govt. run by Naveen Patnaik for his entry to Phulbani the district town of Kandhmal to attend a pre-scheduled VHP programme in its Golden Jubilee celebration and a health camp there on Saturday, Dr Praveen Bhai Togadia Todadia, the VHP international working president vehemently retaliated over the issue.
“I wanted to go to Kandhamal to feed poor children and provide treatment to downtrodden by a team of specialist doctors from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. But the Naveen Patnaik Government did not allow me to go there”, this was said by Dr Praveen Bhai Togadia here on Saturday.
Speaking at a Press conference, Togadia said, “European Union team and Christians can go to Kandhamal but not a Indian nationalist like me. Naveen is anti- poor, anti-tribal and anti –Hindu.”
“While Naveen Patnaik allowed a delegation of EU to visit Kandhamal, he did not allow me to enter the tribal dominated district. Therefore, I call him anti-Hindu,” Togadia said.
Asked whether denial of permission to him was the reason behind calling Patnaik “anti-Hindu”, Togadia said, “Not exactly. I have been working for the welfare of tribals and Hindus. I visited Rourkela and Cuttack and spoke about development of Hindus and tribals. I would have also spoken the same thing in Kandhamal.”
The VHP working preseident also elaborated his organisation’s action plan for the welfare of Hindus. “We have programmes for health, education, employment and agriculture for Hindus who have been neglected,” he said, adding that the VHP has urged doctors, teachers and others to extend helping hands to encourage Hindus.
Replying to a question on the Centre’s denial of any assistance for Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar festival, the VHP leader said, “They should do somehing for the Lord’s festival. When you are giving funds for Kumbh Mela and Haj, there should have been provision for Nabakalebar festival.”
Among others, VHP functionaries Arun Kumar Upadhyay, Nagendra Kumar Debadtta, Prahalad Khandelwal and Prasanta Panda were present.
Read the news in Hindi: प्रवीण तोगड़िया के कंधमाल दौरेको प्रशासन की मनाही