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Posted on Feb 20, 10:32PM | IANS
Bhubaneswar, Feb 20 : A two-day nationwide strike called by major trade unions hit normal life across Odisha on the first day of the stir Wednesday, disrupting road and rail traffic, officials said.
Protestors carrying banners and placards marched in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack city, shouting slogans against the central government's economic policies.
Some activists burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Trains were stopped at various places in the state. Traffic on state and national highways was disrupted as protestors burnt tyres and erected barricades. Shops downed shutters in several towns.
Most private schools, colleges and other educational institutions were closed. Banks did not operate as 30,000 employees of about 5,000 branches in the state boycotted the work to join the strike.
Operations at coal and iron ore mines in mineral-rich districts of Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Angul and Jajpur were also affected as many workers did not join work.
A senior official of the Bhubaneswar headquartered East Coast Railway (ECoR) said 24 mail express and nine local passenger trains were stranded for hours.
While two trains were cancelled, several were terminated or rescheduled.
"The government is not spending adequately on the social sector like education, health and drinking water. It is not concerned with the problems of the common man. On the other hand it is giving thousands of crores of rupees subsidy to the corporate sector. We will not accept this," national secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Ramakrushna Panda told IANS.
"We hope the government will learn a lesson from this protest," he said.
"There was report of any untowards incident from any part of the state. The protests were peaceful," Special Director General of Police Sanjeev Marik said.
"Government offices functioned normally," Marik added.