Odisha strike over burn victim's death impacts life

Bhubaneswar, Aug 10 : A 12-hour Odisha strike called by BJP Saturday to protest the death of a burn victim allegedly due to medical neglect stranded many trains, affected vehicular movement and led to closure of shops and petrol pumps in some places.

There was partial impact of the strike in some parts of the state while life was normal in many other areas.

Opposition parties alleged the state government's delay in quickly shifting her to Delhi for treatment cost the girl her life.

A senior state police official told IANS that the government and private offices functioned as usual while road and rail services were partially affected in some places.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists shouted anti-government slogans and picketed on roads and near government and private establishments in state capital Bhubaneswar.

Many trains remained stranded as hundreds of party workers squatted on the rail tracks. The activists also took out marches and burnt effigies of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, seeking his immediate resignation.

Partial impact of the protests were also felt elsewhere in the state, including in the district headquarter towns of Balasore, Bolangir, Sambalpur, Angul and Cuttack and the steel city of Rourkela.

Private and government vehicles stayed off the roads in some places as protestors burnt tyres and blocked roads. Business establishments, including shops and petrol pumps, remained closed in Balasore and Cuttack.

"Except for some protests, the strike had no impact here. We have arrested six-seven protesters," Bhubaneswar Deputy Commissioner of Police Nitinjit Singh told IANS.

The 14-year-old girl was set on fire July 28 by Pradip Das and Ekadashi Das at Kharinashi village, about 150 km from Bhubaneswar. Police arrested Pradip the next day and Ekadashi a few days later.

Police said Pradip wanted to marry the victim's elder sister. He was enraged when the family solemnised her marriage with someone else.

Pradip, a resident of the same village as the girl, allegedly began threatening the elder sister's family and also her in-laws. Along with Ekadashi, Pradip invited the victim to his house, dragged her in and poured kerosene on the girl before setting the teenager ablaze.

The teenager, a student of class VII, was shifted to Shriram Chandra Bhanja Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack after her condition worsened. The victim suffered about 70 percent burn injuries.

Doctors moved her to the hospital's central intensive care unit Wednesday after she had trouble breathing. They took her to Bhubaneswar Thursday night to fly her to Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi for treatment.

However, they brought her to the Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar Thursday without boarding the flight as, according to them, her condition had deteriorated. The girl died the same night.

The incident triggered protests with angry opposition and women activists organising silent marches and demonstrations across the state. The opposition Congress has announced that launch of a state-wide civil disobedience protest Aug 20.

--IANS (Posted on 10-08-2013)

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