Normal life was affected across Odisha on Monday as the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) observed a five-hour strike to protest the hike in petrol and diesel prices. The strike was in effect from 7 a.m. to 12 noon. Bus and other vehicles remained off the road at several places while railway services were also affected as BJD activists staged protests at several railway stations.

Commercial establishments also remained closed as the ruling party protested the rising prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas across block and district headquarters on Monday.

School children and office-goers bore the brunt of the strike as protesters blocked roads in Bhubaneswar and other parts of the state.

The state government issued an advisory to close all schools and colleges in view of the strike. The schools conducting examinations have been asked to conduct the same on some other day.

Holding BJD placards, the party workers also burnt tyres in most traffic intersections in the capital, bringing road transport to a grinding halt.

“The BJD has taken to streets today against the fuel price hike imposed on consumers by the Petroleum Ministry at a time when the price of crude oil has decreased in the international market,” said BJD spokesperson Sanjay Dasburma.

“The consumers are suffering while private oil companies in the country are earning crores,” he added.

BJD’s Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya said fuel prices in India are among the highest in the South Asian region, despite the neighbouring countries depending on the same sources for crude oil.

Countering BJD allegations, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prithviraj Harichandan said the state government should write to the central government to bring petroleum products in the ambit of Goods and Services Tax (GST) so that the fuel prices come down.