after west and north odisha it was the turn of the south to demand a separate Hc bench
statesman news service
Nawarangpur, Koraput, 4 September
Normal life across south Odisha districts of Koraput, Nawarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada was affected today due to a 12 hour bandh call given by lawyers demanding a permanent bench of the High Court at Jeypore.
Road communication came to a grinding halt as lawyers resorted to road blockade at different places including the Boriguma-Bhawanipatna National Highway stretch.
While vehicles remained stranded, government offices, commercial banks and educational institutions too remained closed. Shops and business establishments downed their shutters in support of the lawyers agitation.
Reports from Koraput said lawyers squatted on the railway track disrupting movement of trains early this morning. Even the roadside vendors including the vegetable selling tribal women preferred to stay away from the streets and market place till dusk.
Koraput district is at a distance of more than 600 kms from the High Court at Cuttack and the demand to have a bench of the court in Koraput region is justified said Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, president, Koraput Bar Association.
The situation was the same in other districts like Nawarangpur and Malkangiri where lawyers took to the streets and normal life remained paralysed from dawn to dusk today.
The bandh is a success said Mr N Ahmed, president of Nawarangpur district bar association. He thanked the people at large and the business community for their support to the bandh. Ahmed alleged that despite availability of infrastructure for functioning of high court benches at Jeypore, the state government is apathetic towards the demand. Nawarangpur is more than 750 km from Cuttack, he pointed out. The tribal dominated region should have a bench of the High Court as the poor tribals cannot afford to go to Cuttack for case matters, he said.
Former president of the district lawyers association Mr Ashok Mishra, said “it has been a long pending demand and the government should take serious note of it while considering the demands of Sambalpur and Berhampur”.
Nawarangpur district bar association vice president Hari Mohan Choudhary, claimed that about 80 percent of the people in the KBK region are living below poverty line.
The illiterate and economically backward people of the undivided
Koraput are the worst sufferers in the matter of getting justice as they cannot afford the expenses for going to far-off Cuttack to pursue their cases in the high court.
The demand for permanent bench of the High Court appears to have become contagious.
It started in the districts of western Odisha where the urban local body election process was disrupted, then it spread to north Odisha districts and now the southern parts of the state have been affected.