Government offices, banks and courts did not function on Monday as the Central Action Committee formed to demand a bench of the Orissa High Court in western Odisha launched its cease work agitation. The agitation will continue till 24 February.

Schools, hospitals, railway and road communication have been exempted from the agitation, said CAC members who claimed that most parts of western Odisha had observed the cease work protests. It is pertinent to note here that Bolangir district Bar had refused to join the agitation.

All the senior advocates of the district sat in the Nelson Mandola Chowk to restrict the entry of the judges to the courts. At the same time they split into small groups to picket in front of banks and offices. Earlier, looking at the situation, the RDC (ND) DV Swami called a meeting with the CAC to discuss the matter since the issue of HC bench is under active consideration of the government.

But the latter didn’t turn up for the reason that all the past discussions have failed and a popular demand of the people of a vast region was just ignored. “Hence, only a specific decision from the government is what that is required, but not discussion for further dillydallying the matter,” opined the CAC officials.

“Our intention is total cease work in the government offices and financial blockade through closure of banks,” said Mr Pradeep Bahidar, a senior leader of the CAC. “It is highly unfortunate that government is ignoring a popular demand since decades,” he lamented. Situation was also almost the same in other districts of Western Odisha.

However, looking at the gravity of the situation, the collector Samarth Verma has again invited the CAC and the Bar Association for talks. It may be noted here that CM Naveen Patnaik had managed to tackle the agitation a few years ago by simply writing a letter to the then Law Minister Kapil Sibal requestion for setting up of a bench of Orissa High Court in western and southern districts of Odisha. He tried to shift the blame of the Congress led UPA government.

The CAC and lawyers were carried away by the move of the CM though it was clearly a gimmick since everybody was aware that such vague letters had not merit at all. For one, the CM never specified any location of the proposed bench and secondly such requests are routed through the CJ of High Court. In fact Mr Sibal had shot back a reply in this regard to the CM.