Activists of ruling BJD and BJP fought a pitched battle on Wednesday during a shutdown called by the rival party demanding the removal and arrest of Bhubaneswar Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena over a sex clip purportedly featuring him. As BJP workers were busy enforcing the dawn-to-dusk bandh by staging road blockades and picketing, BJD members, mostly from its student wing, took out a motorcycle rally protesting the shutdown, leading to scuffles between rival groups near Master Canteen and Ram Mandir square, police said.
The stretch of road between Ram Temple and Sriya Square virtually turned into a battlefield as BJD activists tried to confront BJP workers.
The groups’ members attacked each other with sticks and indulged in stone-pelting. A few vehicles were also damaged during the clash, police said.
Normal life in the city was hit by the shutdown. While shops and business establishments remained shut, vehicular movement was disrupted as BJP workers blocked roads and burnt tyres at several places including Khandagiri, CRP Square, Jaydev Vihar, Kalpana Square and Patia.
Offices also recorded thin attendance.
Commissioner of Police Y B Khurania and DCP Satyabrat Bhoi rushed to the spot to control the situation. Around 50 people were held in different areas for indulging in violence.
BJP had called the bandh demanding that the Mayor be arrested over the sex clip purportedly featuring him and his alleged role in the death of an engineering student, Asutosh Mohanty alias Rishi.
BJP state unit general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan asked how the BJD workers were allowed to take out a bike rally by police during the bandh.
BJP leaders had had a detailed discussion with police officials about their protest and it was surprising that permission was given for the bike rally, he said.
BJD activists tried to counter the bandh at the behest of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, he alleged.
While BJP was trying to observe a peaceful shutdown, unfortunate incidents took place because of ruling BJD workers, said Harichandan and party colleague Bhrugu Baxipatra.
Leaders of Biju Chatra Janata Dal said they opposed the bandh as it caused immense inconvenience to the public.
Police have deployed about 25 platoons (around 800 personnel) at sensitive points.